Sunday, March 17, 2002

Artist's sculptures capture kinder era

Prized possessions

By Marsie Hall Newbold
Enquirer contributor

        Who: Dolores Rowland of College Hill, owner of Brighter Day Bookstore, mother of six and grandmother of 20.

        On display: Ten sculptures by African-American artist Annie Lee.

[photo] Dolores Rowland holds one of her Annie Lee sculptures.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        Where: Inside a curio cabinet in the dining room of the home Mrs. Rowland shares with Frederick, her husband of 25 years.

        Remember with me: “Annie Lee's figurines tell a story in one glance,” Mrs. Rowland says. “They capture a memory. She depicts the era that I came out of, the '40s and '50s.”

        Suffer for vanity! One of Mrs. Rowland's favorite pieces is called “Burn You Baby?” and depicts what she believes is a mother straightening her daughter's hair. The mother nonchalantly wields a hot iron, and the daughter is practically jumping out of her chair.

        “I also like this one,” she says of “Sunday Evening Radio” depicting a family gathered around an old-fashioned radio. “Just looking at it brings back memories of the way it was. When I was a child it wasn't TV time, it was radio time.”

        Memories of Grandpa: Another work that makes Mrs. Rowland smile is called “Daily Snooze.” It is an elderly African-American gentleman with a bald head who has fallen asleep in his favorite chair. The newspaper is slipping out of his hands, and he has lost one of his slippers.

        “The detail is just amazing,” she says. “From the print on the newspaper, to his horn-rimmed glasses, to the knobs on the radio. You feel as if you are in the room with him. Scenes like this just touch my heart. Life was so much simpler then.”

        Spreading the joy: Mrs. Rowland likes Annie Lee's work so much, she sells the figurines at her bookstore.

        “We opened 19 years ago,” she explains, “To fulfill a need in the African-American/Christian community. At that time, there was really nothing available. We started having workshops and introducing African-American authors. We also dealt with issues like drugs and alcohol.

        “Now we are specializing in children's books,” she says. “We started Kidz Korner trying to help teachers expose kids to Christian authors.”

        Longing: “Whenever I look at Ms. Annie Lee's work,” Mrs. Rowland muses, “I think that we don't have the intimacy that we had then. Back then, we knew each other. We knew each other's pain. Now, we are all pretending we're happy, working day and night. We've got to slow down.

        “I don't think we are in an age of appreciation,” she sighs. “I think that we are in an age of busy, busy, busy.”

        Share your prize possessions with Marsie Hall Newbold by mail: c/o The Cincinnati Enquirer, 312 Elm St., Cincinnati, OH 45202 or e-mail:


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