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Mayor Walsh Announces Grand Opening of Strand Theatre Gallery with Exhibit Celebrating Unsung Black Veterans in U.S. History

August 7, 2014

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh has announced the grand opening of the Strand Theatre’s  new visual arts gallery, located on the first level of the historic entertainment complex in Dorchester’s Upham’s Corner neighborhood.

The gallery’s first exhibit, “Triumph! Unsung Black Veterans in U.S. History (Duty-Sacrifice-Honor)” is a three month exhibit of oil paintings running August 14-November 14, 2014 that celebrates men and women of color in U.S. history that have contributed to the greatness of our nation.

The Strand Theatre Gallery will hold its grand opening with the exhibit on Thursday, August 14 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at 543 Columbia Road, Dorchester, MA 02125. The grand opening is free and open to the public. The Strand Theatre Gallery is open during events at the theatre or by appointment.

Dr. Shirley Malone Fenner, a veteran and Professor of Psychology and Human Development at Wheelock College, will speak about post-traumatic stress and psychological support for military families. Singers Barry Lawton and Yma Arrington will also perform.

The Strand Theatre has historic reference to our country’s valor as the Strand opened its doors on Armistice Day. The Strand Theatre notified thousands of Boston residents that the end of WWI had come. To commemorate this history, the exhibit’s closing ceremony will be conducted on November 11 on the Strand Theatre’s birthday.

A Boston-produced initiative by Haywood Fennell Sr. of Triad Veterans, the exhibit was commissioned by Artists for Humanities. The traveling oil paintings are part of Triad’s national effort to turn the artwork into a commemorative U.S. stamp collection. A signature drive has been circulating since January to support efforts.

The grand opening artist reception includes speakers, entertainment, and refreshments sponsored by The Boston Big Easy Restaurant. Presenters include the 54 Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, the New England Chapter Tuskegee Airman, Boston Tap Dance, the Theresa India Flag Exhibit, and City Strings, who are inner-city youth cello performers.

Special City of Boston Citations will be presented to the artist exhibiting and three esteemed veterans: 102 year old James Guilford, Obie Hall, and posthumously to Benjamin Scott. 

Exhibition Details: Exhibit Coordinator: Haywood Fennell. City of Boston, Curator: Alda Marshall Witherspoon. Strand Manager: Melodi Greene. TRIUMPH! Artists:Stephen Hamilton, Kimberly Nguyen, Kitauna Parker, Genaro Ortega, Jerome Shelton, Juanita Grim, Takii Samuels, Milton Tejeda, Reginald Pinckley, Takii Samuels, Nick Johnson, and Toni Jonas

Exhibit example: William Harvey Carney (oil painting by artist: Kimberly Nguyen) was a Virginia slave who escaped through the Underground Railroad to Massachusetts. Carney enlisted with the 54 Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as a Sergeant. For the assault on Fort Wagner he received the Medal Of Honor (37 years later) for saving the American flag from falling and planting it on the ramparts despite being severely riddled with bullets all over his body as depicted in the film, “Glory.”

About Tri-Ad Veterans League, Inc. was founded by Haywood Fennell, Sr., and fellow concerned veterans attending colleges in the Tri-Ad area of North Carolina thirty years ago. The Tri-Ad Veterans League, Inc., is committed to the principle of collaboration in working with other veterans organizations.  Their broad-based mission includes: the facilitation of veteran’s involvement in community education/cultural projects; enhance health services for veterans; develop strategies for harm reduction in the areas of substance abuse; promote prostate cancer and HIV/AIDS awareness; remove health disparities.

About the Strand Theatre: The newly-renovated Strand Theatre is celebrated as one of the last working vintage neighborhood theatres in America. The 95 year-old theatre boasts a rich history of performance throughout the century; including sporting events and visual arts. From jazz to pop concerts – to ballet, boxing and nationally touring plays—artists who appeared at the Strand have included Alfred Hitchcock, Duke Ellington, and Jerry Lewis. More recent artists include: Al Greene, Ruben Studdard, and comedian Billy Gardell. In addition to the 1,400-seat theatre, the Strand also hosts four galleries. Inside the Hall of Mirrors Gallery, the acrylic “Strand in Blue Series” is on permanent display to highlight the bounty of celebrated artist who graced the stage for nearly a century. For bookings (meetings/wedding/conferences) and detailed event information please visit or call 617-635-1403 or email