File puptcrit/puptcrit.0607, message 238

Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2006 09:30:30 -0700
Subject: [Puptcrit] =?iso-8859-1?q?Ralph_Chess=E9?=

Note To all,

My father, Ralph Chessé, who died in 1991 left 
behind quite a legacy in art and marionettes. In 
September of 2007 the California African America 
Museum in Los Angeles will present a retrospect 
of his art entitled "Discovering Chessé". Not 
known to many is the fact that he left behind 
over 900 works of art including, paintings, a 
mural in the Coit Tower, graphics, drawings, 
serigraphs, photographs and marionettes to 
numerous to count. He had four marionette 
theaters in San Francisco in the 20's and 30's 
and was head of the WPA Marionette Federal 
Theater Project in California in the late 30's. 
He was a pioneer in local television with The 
Wonderful World of Brother Buzz,  one of the 
first  children's marionette programs to deal 
with ecology and the environment. It ran in the 
Bay Area from 1953-1969 sponsored by the Lathum 
Foundation for the Promotion of Humane Education.

The fact that he was of mixed parentage born into 
a New Orleans family that immigrated From France 
to Lousiana in the late 1700's was not widely 
known until his death at 91. NOLA census records 
had he and his siblings listed as black and we 
are cousins to the Boutté's a prominent black 
musical family in New Orleans which includes John 
Boutté, jazz and blues Singer,  who I met for the 
first time in Vancouver at a concert in Victoria 
BC this past month. One of the major interest in 
his work by CAAM is the fact that my father 
personifies the importance of the New Orleans 
cultural experience which was the most prominent 
influence on his art and life and was the 
catalyst for the ground breaking work he did in 
California in his lifetime.  This exhibit will 
present for the first time, that I am aware of, 
an artist who excelled on so many diverse levels. 
In addition to being an artist and puppeteer he 
was an actor, writer, photographer and musician 
and this exhibit will be the first time that 
puppetry will be seen as a fine art as 
represented by his classical marionettes along 
side of his paintings. For those whom want a 
preview of some of his total output check out our 
web site

My second reason for contacting you at 
Puppiticrit is that it has come to my attention 
that some of his work has been showing up on Ebay 
auctions. Since my father produced 36 shows a 
year of Brother Buzz from 1953 to 69' there are 
many Brother Buzz puppets out there. Last week I 
received an  email from a woman in Northern 
California who sent me a picture of a marionette 
she bought for $650 that the seller:

676 MASS AVE. # 2
BOSTON, MA  02118

claimed was featured on the Brother Buzz show (a 
park ranger). He offered no documentation or 
provenance for it. It was obviously not a work by 
my fathers. If anyone knows this Robert Lynch,  I 
would be interested in any  information on him. I 
would also like you all to know that I will be 
happy to authenticate any of my fathers puppets 
or ones you presently own or are intending to buy 
free of charge. Because of the pending exhibit I 
am also interested in tracking down the 
whereabouts of any of his marionettes especially 
the Brother Buzz puppets of which there were a 
great many. my father had a bad habit of 
undervaluing his marionettes which were often 
sold at regionals and nationals for a little as 
$50. Needless to say they are worth far more now. 
I would love to hear from any of you. He also 
took many stock photographs of the Brother Buzz 
characters which I have compiled a CD of which I 
sell for $10. Included in the CD are additional 
photos of his work past and present including his 
WPA Federal Theater Project shows.  I can be 
contacted individually at I 
look forward to hearing from any of you.

Bruce Chessé
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