Les Amis de Beauford Delaney is supporting the completion of


the first full-length documentary about Beauford.

Join us in making this video tribute to Beauford a reality!



Saturday, February 15, 2020

Knoxville Continues to Celebrate Beauford - What's Coming Next

I'm back in Paris after visiting Knoxville for the FABULOUS opening of Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door.

Banners bearing Beauford's image line the streets around the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Banners near the Knoxville Museum of Art
© Les Amis de Beauford Delaney

Signage on the façade of the museum announces the exhibition.

What's on at the Knoxville Museum of Art
© Les Amis de Beauford Delaney

Inside, a enlarged photo of Beauford and James Baldwin walking down a Paris avenue greets visitors.

Monique Y. Wells and photo of James Baldwin and Beauford Delaney
Image courtesy of the Knoxville Museum of Art

The museum was packed for the VIP preview of the exhibition and the excitement of the attendees was palpable.

Attendees at VIP Preview of Through the Unusual Door
Image courtesy of the Knoxville Museum of Art

The exhibition itself is exquisite!

Exhibition rooms for Through the Unusual Door
© Les Amis de Beauford Delaney

It has whetted the appetite of Knoxville's citizens for the next big celebration of the lives and work of Beauford and Baldwin - the University of Tennessee Knoxville's symposium entitled "In a Speculative Light."

Banners for "In a Speculative Light" on campus
at the University of Tennessee Knoxville
Photo courtesy of Amy J. Elias, Ph.D.
Director, University of Tennessee Humanities Center

Originally planned as a closed event, UT Humanities Center director and conference organizer Amy Elias has now opened the symposium to the public due to popular demand. Entry is free.

For additional access, most of the sessions will be livestreamed.

The keynote speaker, NYU professor Fred Moten, will discuss Beauford's painting in relation to Baldwin's writing and Elvin Jones' theory of music on Thursday, February 20, at 3:30 pm in the UTK Student Union Auditorium.

The complete schedule for this three-day event can be found here:


"In a Speculative Light: The Portrait Project" is an innovative addition to the symposium that honors Beauford's love of portraiture. Four artists - Jered Sprecher, Joshua Bienko, Rubens Ghenov, and Mary Laube - have offered to create portraits of symposium speakers, who will be asked to sit for their sessions in a pop-up studio in the UT Student Union.

During the week of February 17, visitors to campus will be able to view an exhibition called "The Paris Years: Paintings by Beauford Delaney from the Artist’s Estate" at the Student Union Art Gallery on the UT campus.

This show is being organized by Derek Spratley, Esq., the executor of the Beauford Delaney estate, to give the public and UT students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to see original Delaney artwork that will be available for purchase after the close of the exhibition.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

James Baldwin Feted in Knoxville

During African-American History Month 2020, Beauford's hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee is celebrating Beauford's dear friend James Baldwin just as much as it is celebrating Beauford!

James Baldwin
(1963) Pastel on Paper
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Here is the list of planned events:

Movie Screening ~ James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket
Sunday, February 2, 2020 | 2:00 PM
Location: Lawson McGhee Library Contact: nhill@knoxlib.org

Socratic Seminars ~ James Baldwin: The Fire Next Time
Tuesdays, February 4 and 11, 2020 | 6:30 PM
Location: Lawson McGhee Library Contact: nhill@knoxlib.org

Movie Screening ~ James Baldwin: I Am Not Your Negro
Sunday, February 9, 2020 | 5:00 PM
Location: La Bamba Seafood, 2619 Chapman Hwy #1913, Knoxville, TN 37920
Contact: nhill@knoxlib.org

Spoken Word Performance ~ Black Atticus and Friends
Sunday, February 9, 2020 | After Movie Screening
Location: La Bamba Seafood, 2619 Chapman Hwy #1913, Knoxville, TN 37920
Contact: nhill@knoxlib.org

Socratic Seminars ~ James Baldwin
Tuesday February 18, 3:00 PM (Murphy Branch) & Thursday, February 27, 6:00 pm (Bearden Branch)
Contact: nhill@knoxlib.org

Saturday, February 1, 2020

An Eruption of Creativity – An Interview with Gary Elgin

This week, I'm pleased to share an interview with Gary Elgin, an artist who adopted the city of Knoxville as his own and who feels kinship with Beauford's life and work.

Gary Elgin
Image courtesy of Gary Elgin

Les Amis: Tell us a little about yourself.
GE: I'm a transplanted Knoxvillian, having been born in Chicago, Illinois in 1962. Adopted by two loving parents, who always encouraged every creative avenue I wanted to explore. I always exhibited visual artistic talents from the time I could hold a crayon, but I was a late bloomer in other aspects of life only coming out at age 30.

Les Amis: You describe yourself as a queer portrait painter. Does this mean that you are queer and you paint portraits, that you paint portraits of queer people, or both?
GE: First I guess I should explain My embrace of the word queer. This word has had a checkered past both in and outside the LGBTQ community. I have embraced it from almost day one of my identifying as 'other than'. Although I identify as 'gay' I find the more inclusive term queer to be preferable. I have been a visual artist nearly all my life, but I would have to admit that my queer nature has always, whether I knew it or not, informed my art. If not in subject matter, in energy or color or style. It has to.

Les Amis: What drew you to portrait painting?
GE: I honestly couldn't say. I have always since the very beginnings been attracted to faces! One of my more recent exhibits was entitled "Familiar Faces" (one of the key pieces was coincidentally a portrait of James Baldwin that now is in the collection of the Knoxville Public Library system at the Burlington Branch). I've always been fascinated with faces and eyes.

Les Amis:
Do you paint things other than portraits?
GE: Oh yes! I particularly enjoy painting owls, animals of all sorts and clowns (I was a professional performing clown from about 1982 to 2001).

Les Amis: You discovered Beauford’s art at a KMA exhibition upon moving to Knoxville in 1992. If you can remember the paintings by him that you saw during that show, please describe them.
GE: I honestly do not remember the first pieces I saw other than to say they were striking... Passionate... and seemingly an eruption of creativity. His portraits evoked emotions in me… this is before ever reading anything about his life or his challenges. When I first saw his 1944 "Portrait of James Baldwin," I felt an instant connection. On a very deep level.

Portrait of James Baldwin
(1944) Pastel on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Les Amis:
Perhaps you are aware of the digital exhibition that celebrates Beauford’s portraiture. What are your thoughts about the evolution of his portraits over the years?
GE: I find his early portraits steeped in realism and exactness are very similar to how many of us begin painting, before we give ourselves permission to are creative true selves.

Les Amis: In what way(s) has Beauford’s art influenced yours?
GE: He (it) gave me “permission.”

Les Amis: Have you ever done a self-portrait?
GE: HAVE I !!!??? (laughs) in 1989, I had amassed an extensive collection of self-portraits. I launched an exhibit and paired them with journal entries that appeared appropriate. "Long, Hard Looks Inside: Portraits of a Gay Life" was a very satisfying exhibit for me. It enabled me to get a lot of junk out of my system.

Les Amis: Have you ever done a portrait of Beauford?
GE: Started, but not yet completed.

Les Amis: Perhaps you’ve seen Beauford’s 1944 self-portrait at the Art Institute of Chicago. How would you describe this work?
GE: To me, it seems to be influenced by Vincent van Gogh's "Portrait of a Young Man". Although I understand the resemblance to a self-portrait by Matisse. The arched eyebrow and penetrating gaze draws the audience in.

Les Amis: In what way has Beauford’s story inspired you?
GE: His courage. Through all of his trials and tribulations with his inner voices... He still had what I would consider to be courage and that is expressed through his work.

Les Amis: How well would you say his life and work are known in the LGBTQ community – locally or nationally?
GE: Sadly, I would say it is not as well-known especially locally. I believe that will change with this upcoming exhibit. The energy and resources Knoxville has put toward this latest collection of events will certainly catch the attention of even the casual observer.

Les Amis: Are you using his story or his art as part of your activist activities?
GE: Most of my activist activities happened from 1992 to 2005 and I can definitely say he as well as James Baldwin heavily influenced how I went about my work.

Les Amis: If so, in what way?
GE: I did my utmost to represent the LGBTQ community in a professional and upstanding manner. Even in the most heated moments, I did my best to stay polite, soft-spoken and yet direct. I also kept a creative thread through each of the activities and social actions we participated in.

Les Amis:
Any final thoughts?
GE: I am thrilled to be living in Beauford & Joseph Delaney's hometown and have lived to be able to see them celebrated in such a grand way! It is much deserved.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

What's on in Knoxville - Through the Unusual Door and More

Following last week's article about the preparations that Knoxville is making to celebrate Beauford during February 2020, I'm providing details about events organized in conjunction with the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) exhibition entitled Beauford Delaney and James Baldwin: Through the Unusual Door and sharing news about an additional event.

Knoxville Museum of Art
© Discover Paris!

I will attend a private preview of the exhibition prior to the public opening that is scheduled for Friday, February 7. That evening, KMA has scheduled a musical “Tribute to Bob Marley” for its Alive After Five program performed by the roots reggae group, Natti Love Joys. The festivities will begin at 6 PM. Tickets will be made available on site beginning at 4:45 PM; KMA members can attend for free.

On Saturday, February 8, the museum's Family Fun Day will celebrate the exhibition beginning at 11 AM. Art activities, artist demonstrations, door prizes, face painting, and more will be offered to the public at no charge.

For information about both events, send e-mail to .

Dr. Maurita Poole, Director of the Clark Atlanta University Art Museum, will talk about the university's "Delaney and Baldwin Collection" during a KMA Cocktails & Conversation session on February 25, 2020. This event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Poole is one of twelve curators selected to participate in the 2020 Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellowship program.

On February 16, Black in Appalachia is sponsoring a free screening of a short documentary called "Beauford Delaney" at The Bottom, 202 Randolph Street.

Promotional image for "Beauford Delaney"
East Tennessee PBS short documentary

The public is invited to a post-screening discussion at the same address, during which refreshments will be served. Children are welcome to attend the event.

"Beauford Delaney" will also air on East Tennessee PBS on the following dates:

- Thursday, February 6 at 8:30 PM ET
- Sunday, February 9 at 6:30 PM ET
- Sunday, February 16 at 10:30 AM ET