Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is partnering with the Wells International Foundation (WIF) to take the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition to the U.S.!

We value your support!

(All or part of your gift through WIF may qualify as a charitable deductible in the U.S.)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Black in Appalachia: Beauford Delaney

As a non-profit, viewer-supported television station and PBS member station, East Tennessee PBS provides lifelong learning opportunities to more than 1 million viewers in East Tennessee, Southern Kentucky, Southeast Virginia and Western North Carolina. Through its Blacks in Appalachia project, it is working to research, archive and raise the visibility of the region’s African-American history and contributions.

William Isom II, East Tennessee PBS' Director of Community Outreach, interviewed me several months ago as part of his research for a video documentary about Beauford. The final product, a 6m29s video, is beautifully done!

View it here:

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Sainte Anne's Hospital: An Oasis of Calm

Last Saturday, I visited Sainte-Anne Hospital after catching up with a long-time friend at the nearby Marriott Rive Gauche hotel.

(For those who may not know, Sainte-Anne's is where Beauford spent the last four years of his life.)

It was a hot and breezy day and I planned to do a quick walk through to see how the renovation of the facility and landscape is progressing.

As I made my way down the main "thoroughfare" - the Allée Paul Verlaine - I felt as though I had been transported out of the city of Paris and into an idyllic little hamlet.

Allée Paul Verlaine
© Discover Paris!

There was absolutely no traffic noise and very few people were moving about on the immaculate grounds, which are vibrant with flowers and greenery. It was an oasis of calm.

Central Pharmacy and Maurice Ravel courtyard
© Discover Paris!

Galerie Maurice Utrillo
© Discover Paris!

Lawn and flower beds flanking Allée Camille Claudel
© Discover Paris!

© Discover Paris!

I no longer felt the urge to move quickly.

I discovered that the exterior of the Benjamin Ball pavilion has been completely cleaned. It is one of the buildings in the area where Beauford's room was located.

Pavillon Benjamin Ball
© Discover Paris!

I also discovered a vegetable garden behind another pavilion in this same area. Beautiful squashes are growing there!

Squashes in vegetable garden
© Discover Paris!

To my delight, I found several portraits from the Saint Anne Museum of Art and History displayed on a stone wall.

Galerie des Portraits - MAHHSA
© Discover Paris!

I learned that Sainte-Anne's has an archive that the general public can access. I plan to return to see what I can learn about how the facility was laid out during Beauford's stay.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Beauford Enters the Carnetta and Norm Davis Collection

Carnetta and Norm Davis placed the winning bid for the Beauford Delaney pastel entitled Portrait of a Young Man during the Case Antiques auction house on July 14.

Carnetta Davis graciously granted Les Amis the following interview about this latest acquisition.

Carnetta Davis and Portrait of a Young Man
Image courtesy of Carnetta Davis

Portrait of a Young Man
(1938) Pastel on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Les Amis: Why are you so passionate about collecting art?

C. D.: After learning of the struggles of the early African-American artists to be recognized equally with their peers of other races, my husband Norm and I decided in our own way to try to help forgotten and underappreciated artists, mostly due to discrimination, receive long overdue recognition. We welcome people into our home and loan works to museums and galleries to help educate the public on this genre of work. We also desire to call attention to the works of living African American artists whose past experiences are unique and helped to define their unique brand of American Art.

Les Amis: How long have you been collecting?

C. D.: My husband, Norm and I have always collected, but not always art. About fourteen (14) years ago, we shifted our focus to art by African American artists.

Les Amis: Do you have a selection process for the pieces you collect?

C. D.: Yes. We have an ever-changing list of artists that we are interested in collecting. Recently we have specifically focused on artists who were educators and artists from Alabama and the South, but we have significant artists from all over the United States in our collection.

Les Amis: What makes your collection distinctive?

C. D.: The collection includes more than 150 works of African-American art, spanning the 19th to the 21st centuries and with this collection, we attempt to show the evolution of African American Art. We also collect works by artists who at one time were significant when living but are currently off the radar. We also have works in our collection that are not by African Americans or American artists but are simply items that we were drawn to or inherited from family members.

Carnetta Davis with Portrait of a Young Man and
other pieces from the Davis Collection
Image courtesy of Carnetta Davis

Les Amis: What about Beauford Delaney's art is appealing to you?

C. D.: In addition to pleasing aesthetics, I enjoy art that tells stories. I love the fact that if you examine his works over the years and study his life story, you can distinctively see how his work evolved. His use of color is especially appealing.

Les Amis: Why is it important to you to have his work in your collection?

C. D.: Beauford Delaney seemed to be a free spirit who did not conform to what was expected of African American artists of the times. He learned and grew from experiences shared with people from a very wide range of ethnicities and cultures. He followed his dreams and relocated to Paris. This fluidity of his spirit shows in his work over time. His story is just as significant as his art.

Les Amis: Does the fact that Beauford is from the South play a role in your interest in his art?

C. D.: Most definitely. As a daughter of the South, born and reared in Birmingham, Alabama, I feel a connection to other Southerners who create and appreciate art.

Les Amis: Do you have a preference for his abstract or figurative works?

C. D.: I prefer his abstract works but Portrait of a Young Man, a figurative expressionism work, speaks to me. Characteristics of this work provide insight on the direction his work would take.

Les Amis: What attracted you to Portrait of a Young Man?

C. D.: It fits perfectly into our collecting “sweet spot”. It is an early work (1938) that is unlike anything we own. It helps tell the story and illustrate how his work evolved. In 1938, Delaney was photographed painting in Washington Square in New York City by Life magazine. This work could have been painted by him there.

Les Amis: Does this piece tell a story to you?

C. D.: I have the desire to want to know more about how the young man came to be a subject for this painting.

Les Amis: Do you have other Beauford Delaney works?

C. D.: No, but I would like to acquire others, especially one of his abstracts. We have two (2) paintings by his brother, Joseph Delaney.

Les Amis: Do you have any comments to add?

C. D.: I am happy the planets aligned, and we were able to add this work to our collection. We look forward to sharing it along with what we have learned about Beauford Delaney and his work with others.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Beauford and the James Baldwin Writers' Colony in Paris

The James Baldwin Writers' Colony is a Global Pathways study abroad program offered by Emerson College at its Kasteel Well facility in the Netherlands.

Running from July 5 - August 2, the course description invites participating students to "write, workshop and revise short works of creative fiction and nonfiction inspired by the literature of African Americans who lived and work in Europe." It further indicates that "Excursions to Amsterdam and Paris, France will enable you to walk in the footsteps of literary giants such as James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Chester Himes.

The Paris excursion included a luncheon at the Café Select. Program Cultural Architect Charles Reese invited me to share in this meal and talk about the relationship between Beauford and James Baldwin. He also asked me to explain the significance of the café in their lives.

Café Select
© Discover Paris!

James Baldwin Writer's Colony at the Café Select
© Discover Paris!

Serendipitously, the group was seated in the same space where Les Amis celebrated the first anniversary of the laying of Beauford's tombstone at Thiais Cemetery.

Monique addressing the crowd at 1st anniversary celebration
© Discover Paris!

The luncheon meeting was sandwiched between a black Paris history tour given by Julia Browne of Walking the Spirit tours and an encounter at the U.S. Embassy.

I spoke about the first encounter between Beauford and Baldwin in NYC, how Beauford became a mentor for Baldwin during his formative years, and how the "tables turned" when Beauford moved to Paris and became part of Baldwin's entourage. Baldwin felt increasingly responsible for Beauford as Beauford suffered bouts of physical and mental illness, and was eventually named as part of the tutelle (trusteeship) that managed Beauford's affairs when he was committed to the Hôpital Sainte-Anne in 1975.

I also spoke about the Select as one of Beauford's last favorite hangouts in Montparnasse and how the café figures into Baldwin's novel, Giovanni's Room.

Dr. Anthony Pinder, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Internationalization, & Global Engagement, was one of the professors on the excursion. He opened the floor to questions with one of his own about how, as travel professionals who specialize in black Paris history, Browne and I determine the "truth" of what we present to our audiences and how we decide to present information so that it is best received by audiences with different levels of understanding regarding this information. This sparked a lively discussion!

Browne passed a couple of images around - one of Beauford, James Baldwin, and Wilmer Baldwin at the American Cultural Center and one of a painting that Beauford created during his New York years.

Beauford and the Baldwin brothers at the American Cultural Center
Photo: U.S. Information Service

The conversation then turned to how Beauford's work is valued and whether his estate is benefiting from the use of his work for commercial purposes.

My part of the event ended with me taking photos with Reese, Browne, and Dr. Pinder.

From left to right:
Charles Reese, Monique Y. Wells, and Dr. Anthony Pinder
© Discover Paris!

Julia Browne and Monique Y. Wells
© Discover Paris!

It is always my privilege and pleasure to share information about Beauford's life and art with study abroad students!