See Frenemy, an original stage play, Feb. 3

pexels monica silvestre 713149In a show of collaboration, teamwork, and theatrical prowess, the team at Ace Brown Productions created an original stage play for theater fans and new fans alike. Come see Frenemy at New Life Bible Church on Feb. 3.

Instead of following the new norm of filmmakers pursuing streaming services like Tubi, producer Ace Brown opted for a different and exciting approach — stage plays. He and his team of cast and crew continue to work tirelessly designing complex sets, fleshing out their original characters, and rehearsing over and over again.

“I’m most excited about seeing my castmates perform,” Ace says, praising his cast and crew for all their hard work. “Started back in 2012, Ace Brown Productions [has] produced films for the community. This is the first of many theater projects [of ours].”

Ace Brown is known for producing, writing, and acting in the TV mini-series “I Need Help” and starring in the films “Those Who Can’t” and “Risk: The Life of Floyd & Sabrina” among plenty other acting credits.


Ace goes on to share the intriguing plot of his newest story, “We run across new people every day, whether at work or in our neighborhoods. At some point, we may consider them a friend. Are they really a friend to you or are they a frenemy?”

Plenty of us have had ups and downs with all kinds of relationships. Ace Brown plans to tackle that topic with creativity and intrigue.

“Ashlee and Kevin have been dating since college. When Ashlee starts a new job and meets new friends, their relationship gets tested!”

Although it’s not a musical, this drama-comedy style play will have you on the edge of your seats the same way a powerful song would. Don’t miss your chance to see a visionary in action and a team of people with an overwhelming and tangible love for their craft.

Join the Ace Brown Productions Frenemy show on Feb. 3, for either one of their two shows. Both shows are estimated to last around 2.5 hours each, with one starting at 2 p.m. and the other starting at 7 p.m. the same day.

All ages are allowed, however the content in the play is recommended for those 17 and up. The Frenemy stage play is set to be held at New Life Bible Church at 1420 Hoke Loop Rd. in Fayetteville. Tickets are $30.

Audience members can expect to see multiple vendors selling their items and a concession stand to purchase food and drinks.

Continuing to go the extra mile for their audience, Ace Brown Productions will have welcoming music playing from the moment you step through the doors and will gladly get you situated with anything you may need. They ask that you please purchase tickets ahead of time and enjoy a stress-free and entertaining afternoon and evening!

For more information and ticket purchase, visit either site below:

For 2 p.m. tickets visit

For 7 p.m. tickets visit

Kudzu vines wrap around a great story

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It's a word. It is a plant. Something that will perk up North Carolinians when they hear that word.

In one sense it is a bad word in North Carolina because it reminds us of the fields and fields of otherwise good farmland taken over by an exploding mob of plants.

We see telephone poles and lines covered with that plant taking over everything everywhere.

But it also brings welcome memories of the late Doug Marlette's comic strip named “Kudzu,” set in rural North Carolina. This was itself the inspiration for a musical named “Kudzu” which featured the music of legendary Bland Simpson and the Red Clay Ramblers and was performed by them with enthusiasm.
Now there is another creative work that features our history with the kudzu plant.

“The Kudzu Queen” is the debut novel of Mimi Herman and is set in rural North Carolina in the early 1940s. It was a time when representatives of the U. S. Government scoured the countryside to encourage farmers to plant kudzu as a crop.

Herman explained to me recently this background about kudzu in the early 1940s: “The government saw kudzu as being the savior plant. So, it was a plant that we could plant to prevent erosion. Think about the time right around the Dust Bowl. And people were looking for erosion preventatives. Also, we're just past, the Great Depression.

“And here's a plant that literally grew a foot in 24 hours. What better thing to feed your animals and your family? And there was all this stuff you could do with it. I mean, you could cook it, you could make things out of it, you could make baskets, you could make clothes out of it. It was a headache cure. It was a heart attack cure. Kudzu was an alcoholism cure.”

In this special kudzu time, Herman builds her story.

There is a popular adage that says there are only two plots in all literature: “You go on a journey, or the stranger comes to town.”

In Herman’s novel, the stranger is James T. Cullowee who arrives in Cooper County, North Carolina, in a green Chevy truck loaded with kudzu plants.

He is charming and full of plans to promote kudzu planting.

Herman writes, “We watched him drive down Main Street, the crowd parting to let him pass. As his truck diminished in the distance, even the dust that rose behind him seemed magical, lightly tinged with green and gleaming with hope.”

Fifteen-year-old Mattie Lee Watson, the story’s narrator, is immediately charmed by Cullowee, who becomes known as the Kudzu King.

When he plans a kudzu festival with a beauty contest and a Kudzu Queen, she aspires to win that crown.
Mattie’s family, including her wise and kind parents and two brothers, are respected in the community and provide a solid base for Mattie’s dealings with her friends and fellow contestants in the Kudzu Queen contest and her crush on Mr. Cullowee.

Mattie’s best friend, Lynette Johnson, and her troubled and poor family live next door. They provide a connection to the challenges knocking down poor farm families at every turn.

Lynette’s mother is ill, and her father is a drunkard. For some reason the Johnsons invite Mr. Cullowee to stay with them. But when Mrs. Johnson dies, Mr. Cullowee moves in with Mattie’s family.

Another of Mattie’s friends, Rose, lives nearby in a sharecropper family on land owned by Mattie’s father. When they were younger, Rose and Mattie were best friends.

But Rose, being black, was assigned to a separate school, and their friendship faded. However, as Mattie struggles with the pressures of the Kudzu Queen contest and her mixed feelings toward Mr. Cullowee, Rose is there to provide wise advice and support.

Even without the Kudzu King and the festival contest to drive the action, Herman’s story of Mattie’s growing up and struggles of farm life would be a welcome learning gift to North Carolina readers–especially as we remember the tenacious presence of the kudzu vine in our landscape.

Editor's Note: D.G. Martin, a retired lawyer, served as UNC-System’s vice president for public affairs and hosted PBS-NC’s North Carolina Bookwatch.

FSO, Cumberland Choral Arts perform "Holiday Pops" concert

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The spirit of the season is all over the city. With the countdown to Christmas in full swing, there is no shortage of events for residents to enjoy. From light displays to stage plays, there is something for everyone in every corner of Fayetteville. For music lovers and movie lovers alike, the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and Cumberland Choral Arts Holiday Pops is a can’t-miss event. Set for Saturday, Dec. 9th at Seabrook Auditorium, located on Martin Luther King Dr, on the campus of Fayetteville State University, this special concert starts at 7:30 p.m.

Holiday Pops is a unique, one-of-a-kind musical experience combining the harmonious sounds of the instruments of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra with the melodic voices of Cumberland Choral Arts Choir to bring attendees a program they can sing along to and relive childhood memories. The full Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra will be playing in conjunction with the full Cumberland Choral Arts Choir. “It will be magic on stage!”

Ticket prices vary with group discounts available.
• Adult: $32
• Military: $25
• Senior (65+): $25
• CCS Employee: $25
• College Student: $8
• FSU Students: FREE
• Child (5-18): $5
• Children ages 0-5 are free

Group discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. Please call the symphony office at (910) 433-4690 no later than 48 hours before a concert to make arrangements for group purchases. These discounts will not be available for purchase at the door. There will be no concessions sold at this event.
Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra Marketing and Office Manager, Meghan Woolbright, said “Holiday Pops is a program featuring some of your favorite holiday songs and masterpieces.”

Woolbright also said that attendees can expect to hear music featured on soundtracks of popular holiday movies (Die Hard not included). “Attendees can look forward to holiday classics like Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, John Williams’s Three Holiday Songs from Home Alone, Piotr Ilyitch, Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker, and more… We hope to see our community from young to old excited about symphonic music and for our upcoming season.”

This is not the first year the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and Cumberland Choral Arts Choir have joined talents to put on a show for the community. Handel’s Messiah is an annual show for the two and is set to take place again this year on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at Berean Baptist Church.

This event is free to the public. For more information on the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, its programs, and the schedule of community concerts, visit its website

Cumberland Choral Arts has been a community fixture since its conception in 1991 by Mr. Alan M. Porter.
Now under the direction of Dr. Michael Martin, Cumberland Choral Arts is the Sandhill's premier choir and keeps a full calendar of appearances and concerts, with a smaller “select voice” ensemble, Cross Creek Chorale, that performs at concerts and community appearances. More information about the program and calendar of concerts can be found on the website,

Keep It Cute Content Day, a day for creators and influencers

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With social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok monetizing their top users, singles, families, and professionals are all tapping into the extra payday.

Content is one of the easiest ways to get paid online but it is also a taxing job that requires creators to come up with new, fresh ideas and aesthetically pleasing videos and photos for their followers.
Many business owners are creating spaces for content creators to take pictures and create content for themselves, but few are dedicated to only content creation.

Keep It Cute K, owned by local entrepreneur and women’s business owner advocate, Sylvia Glanton, is hosting Keep It Cute Content Day on Saturday, Dec. 16th from 1 to 5 p.m. at the studio at 100 Hay Street, 7th floor. This event will be a one-stop shop for content creators, business owners, and professionals.
Tickets are $125, and can be purchased on Eventbrite at Tickets include 4 hours of studio time, a professional photographer/videographer, and a content creation strategy session. The content creation strategy session will include tapping into the latest trends and how about “crafting compelling content that resonates with your audience.”

A professional makeup artist will be on hand for those who need it for an additional cost. For those who have a “glam” team and photographer that will be joining them, only those creating the content for their social media or website should purchase a ticket.

Keep It Cute K creation space has several distinct spaces for content creation. The rooms are designed with all businesses in mind. Much of the space has views of downtown, creating the perfect lighting for photos and videos.

This event is for anyone who needs to create content, but studio owner Glanton said the event's focus is on business owners and women in the area.

“I have a content creator that is going to come in and help business owners or women who are into growing their digital footprint online. A lot of what needs to happen when establishing yourself on social media is having a presence that screams ‘I AM HERE’ and also screams that you are a professional, because I think a lot of people miss that step,” Glanton said.

“It’s ok because sometimes people are able to be themselves without all the aesthetics but this specific audience that I’m looking to come to the content day are people who pretty much are business owners, who have some sort of following or want to establish some sort of following, but they also need professional pictures.”

Glanton has a passion for helping individuals and small business owners, prompting her to create this invaluable event for the local community.

“I see little things that people don’t take into account when it comes to even having a social media presence. One thing that I always do, is if I do have a photoshoot and I have these new beautiful pictures that I want everybody to see, I update my profile picture or my cover photo and I always add a caption. People don’t do that. So I noticed that. This is also the time for people to come in and get those little tips and stuff on how to increase their presence,” she said.

Keep It Cute K creation space functions as a venue for small gatherings, meetings, and parties. The intimate, well-decorated space, allows for the creative juices to flow or the perfect backdrop for an office gathering.

Glanton is only getting started with this event. She will also be hosting a Friendsmas event at the studio later this month and her Future Rich Aunties conference is in April of 2024.

Future Rich Aunties is the product of Glanton’s vision to see women business owners being successful while creating a community of support for one another. For more information about all the upcoming events at Keep It Cute K follow them on social media,
Women business owners looking for more information about Future Rich Aunties can follow

Mark Making: The art of expressive drawing

Empty Room Red Walls by Jennifer PattenOne of the best examples of expressive mark-making is a signature on a piece of paper (or a tablet) since it is a personal and unique form of self-expression. Signing your name on a legal document is not just a legal mark of identification - you are also making a statement about who you are, how you want to present yourself to the world. Your signature can convey personality, attitude and even emotions through its style and handwriting form.

Appreciating the infinite ways people sign their name is the first step in appreciating the act of mark making in art. Like signatures, mark making is a physical act, how one holds the pencil or pen and the pressure being applied, as well as the speed of the signature or mark, are all contributors to an expressive style.

Mark Making: The Art of Expressive Drawing is an invitational exhibition and opens Thursday, Feb. 1 at Gallery 208 in downtown Fayetteville. Visitors to the reception or exhibit will see the variety of ways drawing is more than simply conveying information. Visitors will have an opportunity to experience the ways mark making conveys emotion, energy and is a personal response to a subject by nineteen different artists.

Seeing how artists use mark making in distinctive styles and genres is an opportunity for visitors and artists to experience the differences and similarities between the works. Also, a variety of styles at the same location has the potential to enrich the overall artistic community by encouraging dialogue and cross-pollination of ideas between different artists and genres.

Spiritual Quest by Dwight SmithMark Making: The Art of Expressive Drawing is not a narrow view of the medium of drawing, but an expansive way to see how drawing is fundamental throughout the creative process. We may look at an etching and admire the product of ink on paper, but it is through the drawing process that the print exists. The mark making with colored pencils by Callie Farmer results in beautiful tonal forms, but the subtle mark making is still there: the colored pencil touches the paper, the colored pencil is lifted from the paper, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Horse by Shane Booth is a work created by a professional photographer. Booth’s image of an abstracted horse was created with his 1867 vintage studio camera. An ornate gold leafed picture frame borders the black space surrounding the animal. With lead pencil and a scratching technique, Booth created a diagrammatic grid of line and circles on the surface of his photograph. Subtle and unexpected, everything in the work, including the frame, supports the overall mystique of how unlike processes and materials have the potential to evoke the ethereal; as well as bring new meaning to the subject.

In a different approach to the unearthly and utilizing see-through layers, Andrew White explores the figure by drawing a series of skeletons on drawing paper and tracing paper. For the finished work, White has mounted the tracing paper drawing on top of the drawing paper to create a subject in flux. Overlapping lines (in different values) and the changing directions of the lines create a shifting or moving image.

Comparing the charcoal drawings in the exhibition is the easiest way to see the potential of line qualities. Johanna Gore’s charcoal drawing, Study of Justice, establishes the way a line can merge from delicate to assertive to create a sense of movement and energy in the work. Gore also embraces imperfection and creates messy mid-value smudges in contrast to the dark, sharp, expressive single line dividing the composition into thirds.
In comparison, Jaeden McRae conveys a type of space in which the negative (ground) is equal in importance to the positive objects (the figure). McRae uses the side of his charcoal in the drawing titled Interior with Chair to articulate the subject of a table, chair and stacked forms in a mid-value range interior setting. The artist is confident in his placement of objects with bold, wide, expressive mark-making. Using a directional light source, McRae creates a delicate environment of shifting lines and reductive perspective. As the light moves to the upper area of the picture plane, linear forms are absorbed into the brightness; in the lower composition shifting lines move into the darkness of the shaded area.

Compared to the solid modeling of objects by McRae, Lee Wilson’s print is a series of scratchy marks expanding and contracting to reveal a story about the figure in the center of the composition. Titled Mia Appearing, Wilson created the image on a pronto plate by repeating drawn lines to create the dark and dense figure emerging from a flattened background.

Several works in the exhibit are inspired by modern anime and modern cartoon style. Both styles emphasize flat shapes and color, lines are always emphasized. The multicolored relief print by Jennifer Patten titled Empty Room, Red Walls is an example of the modern anime style due to its complexity and the character in motion. For this relief edition, the artist used the repetition of black lines to trap the floating colors, unifying the image to create the angst of a situation.

A painting in the exhibit by Katey Morrill is an excellent example of how an artist utilizes paint and paintbrush as the mark-maker to create expressive drawing qualities in a painting instead of a pencil or charcoal. In comparison, Dwight Smith’s large format drawing titled Spiritual Quest is the traditional expressive drawing on paper. Large in scale, 28” x 40,” the size is relevant for the viewer to sense the physicality of the making process. Visitors to the gallery will experience the speed of the signature or mark as the artist quickly moved across the surface of the paper to make expressive marks with charcoal, colored pastels, pencil, and paint.
Coming from the abstract expressionist tradition, Smith’s work is the quintessential example of the abstract expressionist style - emphasizing the process of making instead of the final product, bold and expressive marks to create a sense of movement and energy.

Several artists build off the surface of the paper or the surface of the image in mixed media works. McRae sews waxed thread into a charcoal drawing of the skull – an illusion and the real interface to create new meaning. Chantel Dorisme creates white-on-white works by sewing white materials (thread or yarn) into the white of the paper as a way to explore the idea of line-making. In one work, Dorisme draws the figure by perforating the paper, the perforations creating the implied line of the figure.

The exhibition includes nineteen artists: Daishaun Griffith, Dwight Smith, Shane Booth, Johanna Gore, Jennifer Patten, Katey Morrill, Callie Farmer, Caitlyn Barnett, Mackenzie Brawley, Chantel Dorisme, Brittany Floyd, Carlos McCain, Jaden McRae, Cheyanne Rogers, Chelita Sipe, Jason Smalls, Andrew White, Lee Wilson, and yours truly!

Mark Making: The Art of Expressive Drawing has several advantages for the artists and the viewers. The exhibit exposes different approaches to art, broadening our understanding and appreciation of the art world. Hopefully, it will encourage creativity and experimentation with new techniques and approaches, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.

The public is invited to the reception of Mark Making: The Art of Expressive Drawing at Gallery 208, Thursday, Feb. 1, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The gallery is located at 208 Rowan Street and there is plenty of parking in the back of the gallery. The exhibit will remain up until the end of May. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, please call 910-484-6200.

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