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, November 26, 2016

Beauford's 1959 Thanksgiving

Beauford was living in the Paris suburb of Clamart in 1959. His address was 68, rue Paul Vaillant Couturier.

68, rue Paul Vaillant Couturier, Clamart
© Discover Paris!

Both Beauford and his dear friend, James Baldwin, were in a fragile emotional state during the weeks and months leading up to Thanksgiving that year. Both men benefited from an elaborate Thanksgiving dinner party that Baldwin organized in Beauford's honor.

David A. Leeming, author of Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, says that the party was "memorable, and Beauford demonstrated his happiness by for the first time in years singing some of the old songs with Baldwin."

Fern Marja Eckman, author of The Furious Passage of James Baldwin, provides readers with greater detail. She notes that Baldwin lived "about a block away" from Beauford, in a flat located above a country restaurant. Baldwin had the owners of the restaurant, whom he called Pierrot and Pierrette, prepare the meal under his supervision. Eckman quotes one of the invitees for the evening, a Belgian writer and director named Robert Cordier, to paint a picture of the festivities:

Jimmy took over the whole restaurant for Thanksgiving ... The table was carefully arranged with autumn decorations. It was really a banquet for twenty people. Jimmy's a gourmet, a connoisseur of wine and cognac. That was a great night!

Happy Thanksgiving weekend from Les Amis de Beauford Delaney!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

From Paris to Knoxville - Part 5

A couple of days before I arrived in Knoxville, I received the image below in an e-mail from Knoxville Museum of Art curator Stephen Wicks. His message said "I guess this is yet another sign that our efforts to raise Beauford's visibility here are starting to pay off."

Market House Café menu
Image courtesy of Knoxville Museum of Art

"This" refers to the handwritten menu from a Knoxville eatery called the Market House Café. If you look closely, you will see that the fourth item on the breakfast menu is the "Beaufort Delaney Abstract Strata"!

Beauford's name is misspelled "Beaufort" on the board. But it is spelled correctly on the Market House Café Web site:

Market House Café online menu
Screenshot from Market House Café Web site

On my first full day in Knoxville, I spent most of the day visiting Beauford's archives. For lunch, we ordered take-out from the Market Street Café and partook of a wide selection of items from their menu. Though breakfast was officially over, the kitchen prepared a special Beauford Delaney Abstract Strata for me. It was a frittata made of egg, bacon, spinach, tomato, and feta cheese.

Beauford Delaney Abstract Strata
© Wells International Foundation

And it was wonderful!

I spoke with Andy Pirkle, one of the kitchen managers at the Market House Café, to get more information about this dish. I learned that it is prepared as an open-faced omelet (frittata) and finished in the oven, like a strata. It is a popular item, being made with anything that is available in the kitchen on a given day. Customers enjoy the luxury of having their dish prepared to order and cooked in full view. It is therefore very unlikely that you'll have the same ingredients in your Strata from one visit to the next unless you specifically ask for them.

The Market House Café has a business model based on the strategy "Eat local, be local, and know about local" and many of its dishes are named after local celebrities. The Beauford Delaney Abstract Strata has been on the menu since the café opened on December 22, 2015. At that time, it was simply called the "Beauford Delaney Frittata."

Pirkle did not create the café's menu and was not aware that Beauford was an artist - he thought Beauford may have been in politics! When I explained that Beauford was a painter and pointed out that the menu describes the preparation of the strata as "depending on the artistic nature of the day," he immediately asked if Beauford were an abstract expressionist painter. I confirmed that he was.

Pirkle was appreciative, saying he's in the process of learning about all the people and places for which dishes on the café's menu are named. This will allow him to knowledgeably discuss the café's offerings with its clientele.

What a creative way to honor Beauford!

Market House Café
36 Market Square
Knoxville, TN 37902
Telephone: 865-444-5949
Internet: http://www.markethousecafe.com/

Read Part 1 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.

Read Part 2 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.

Read Part 3 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.

Read Part 4 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

From Paris to Knoxville - Part 4

Thursday, October 20 was the biggest day of my trip to Knoxville.

That morning, I visited the L&N STEM Academy, a magnet high school in the Knox County School system that focuses on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math. It provides an integrated curriculum and project-based instruction.

L&N STEM Academy
© Wells International Foundation

Even though the name implies that the arts are not a focus of the curriculum, I found that L&N has a marvelous and robust arts program!

Students work on self-portraits at L&N STEM Academy
© Wells International Foundation

I was given a tour by London, a brilliant student who wants to specialize in graphic design. He perfectly articulated why arts are so important for STEM activities - they encourage the creativity and innovation required for scientific discovery and invention.

London, a student at L&N STEM Academy
© Wells International Foundation

I then sat down with a staff member to learn about the curriculum and the school's ranking in the Tennessee education system (6th in the entire state.)

If you're wondering why I chose to visit a STEM school as part of this trip, let me inform (or remind) you that the Global Educator Program that was held during the Paris exhibition was all about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education. A similar program will be organized at the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA) when the exhibition comes to Knoxville in 2018.

After a strategy-planning lunch with KMA Executive Director David Butler, Link Sylvia Peters, and attorney Melinda Meador (all of whom came to Paris for the opening of Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color), I was taken to City Hall to meet Knoxville's mayor!

The Honorable Madeline Rogero and Senior Director of Community Development Avice Reid welcomed us to the mayor's spacious suite of offices and listened to Executive Director Butler, Link Peters, and me tell the story of our passion for Beauford and why making Knoxville a resource center for him is in everyone's best interest. From the point of view of tourism, scholarship, and historical preservation, we all agreed that Knoxville should be an essential destination for anyone wanting to learn about Beauford.

From left to right: Avice Reid, Monique Y. Wells,
Mayor Madeline Rogero, Sylvia Peters, David Butler
© Wells International Foundation

The final event of the day was my presentation on Beauford's Paris at the Knoxville Museum of Art. The evening was entitled "From Paris to Knoxville" and KMA's auditorium was filled with people who were anxious to see images of several of Beauford's Paris haunts.

Stephen Wicks, Barbara W. and Bernard E. Bernstein Curator for the museum, served as MC for the evening.

Stephen Wicks, Barbara W. and Bernard E. Bernstein Curator
Knoxville Museum of Art
© Wells International Foundation

Beck Cultural Exchange Center's CEO, Reneé Kesler, addressed the audience to share why preserving the Delaney family home is so important to the history of Knoxville.

Reneé Kesler, CEO of Beck Cultural Exchange Center
© Wells International Foundation

Then I delivered my presentation.

Monique delivering presentation "From Paris to Beyond"
© Wells International Foundation

To close the evening, Knoxville Links Chapter President Avice Reid told the audience how the chapter intends to support the initiative by raising funds to bring Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color to KMA. She presented Executive Director Butler with a $5000 down payment on the monies they intend to raise.

Presenting the check
© Wells International Foundation

All in all, tremendous momentum has been created for the Beauford Delaney in America initiative!

Next week: Beauford on the menu.

Read Part 1 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.

Read Part 2 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.

Read Part 3 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

From Paris to Knoxville - Part 3

After my visit to the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, I had lunch with the docents at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Over soup, sandwiches, and iced tea, I spoke with them about my "Beauford Delaney journey" - beginning with the story of the tombstone. They eagerly posed question after question about Beauford's life and work and I responded just as eagerly. By the time lunch was ending, the room was abuzz with talk of planning a KMA docent trip to Paris!

KMA Docent Lunch
© Wells International Foundation

That afternoon, Link Sylvia Peters and I went to the East Tennessee History Center. This magnificent building houses the Museum of East Tennessee History, the McClung Historical Collection (the genealogy and history research branch of the Knox County Public Library), and the Knox County archives. Steve Cotham, manager of the historical collection, gave us the grand tour of the facility. He shared information about not only the content of the museum exhibitions and the library stacks, but also anecdotes about the history and architecture of the building itself. He explained that the History Center wants to become the permanent home of the Beauford Delaney archives in Knoxville.

East Tennessee History Center
© Wells International Foundation

That evening, I was honored to attend a dinner at the home of Patricia and Alan Rutenberg. Invitees included several persons who visited Paris for the opening of Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color in February; members of the Knoxville chapter of The Links, Incorporated - including Chapter President Avice Reid, who serves as Senior Director of Community Relations for the Knoxville mayor's office; and educators from Knoxville schools. Once again, I shared my "Beauford Delaney journey" and responded to questions from the guests. Several of the attendees told me that they planned to attend the presentation that I was scheduled to give at the Knoxville Museum of Art the following evening.

Monique (seated, third from left) and Knoxville Links
© Wells International Foundation

Next week: the KMA presentation.

Read Part 1 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.

Read Part 2 of "From Paris to Knoxville" by clicking HERE.