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, September 28, 2019

Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville Autumn 2019 Semester Is Underway

For the fourth consecutive semester, the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville program is uniting elementary school students who are 7-10 years old at Jean Zay Elementary School in Paris and Nature's Way Montessori School in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Classes Duo is a collaboration between the Wells International Foundation (WIF) and the City of Paris' CASPE* administrative service. It is one of the many programs and projects that has emerged from the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition, which was held in Paris in 2016.

At its inception in January 2018, sixteen (16) students from Jean Zay and sixteen (16) students from Nature's Way began connecting via video conference to learn about each other's language and culture through Beauford's life and art. The Nature's Way students, along with their parents and Nature's Way educators, visited Paris last October to meet their French counterparts.

Today, half of the students from Nature's Way have left the program because they are now more than 10 years old or because they no longer attend the school. Eight students remain. Several Jean Zay students have left for similar reasons, and their slots have been filled with new students who are excited about joining the program.

The first art project that the students have undertaken is the recreation of Beauford's 1944 self-portrait, which hangs at the Art Institute of Chicago. This served to introduce the new Jean Zay students to Beauford's art as well as his story.

(1944) Oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
© Estate of Beauford Delaney
By permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Educator Juliette Blache reported that the bright colors and powerful brushstrokes in this painting inspired the students, who used watercolors to copy Beauford's self-portrait.

Recreating Beauford's 1944 self-portrait
Image courtesy of Juliette Blache

Student renditions of 1944 Self-portrait
Image courtesy of Juliette Blache

To see images of the Jean Zay students' individual works, click HERE.

To see images of the Nature's Way students' individual works, click HERE.

Among the additional lessons planned for this semester are a clay sculpting session and a sketching / painting session using photos of places in Knoxville and Paris that were important to Beauford coupled with a science lesson on how cameras work.

The impact of this groundbreaking educational program has been documented in a case study published in the September 2019 issue of the journal Theory and Practice in Language Studies. Read the article HERE.

Case Study in Theory and Practice in Language Studies
© Wells International Foundation

Everyone involved in Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville is looking forward to another extraordinary semester of learning and fun!

*CASPE - Circonscription des Affaires Scolaires et de la Petite Enfance

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Amazing Grace Is Yellow - The Cast

The play entitled Amazing Grace Is Yellow is the latest of an increasing number of projects and programs in the U.S. and France being organized to honor and extend Beauford's legacy. It will bring his life to the stage in three acts that follow him from Knoxville to Paris.

Playwright Silver Wainhouse asked award-winning writer Jake Lamar, a long-term Paris expat, to review the script and offer constructive criticism. Lamar’s response was as follows:

Congratulations on a beautiful and deeply moving work! I really have no critique to offer. I just can't wait to see actors bring this to life!

Because Lamar had his play, Brothers in Exile, read at a Paris theater a few years ago, and because he recently had a 10-part radio drama called Viper's Dream recorded for French radio, I asked him to help us identify professional performers who might be willing to participate in a reading of the play as a prelude to a full stage production. He came back with two recommendations - Patrick Rameau and Vanessa Dolmen. Dolmen generously shared the names of other actors who she thought would be good for the project.

As a result, the cast of Amazing Grace Is Yellow consists of professional actors and actresses who are active in stage and screen productions in France. Some are native Francophones with an excellent command of English. All were excited to learn about Delaney’s life and work and expressed bewilderment and frustration that they had never heard of him prior to becoming a part of the project.

The main characters in the play are Beauford; his mother, Delia; and his dear friend and mentee, James Baldwin. Eleven additional characters, real and fictional, round out the list of characters. For the reading, most of the performers will take on multiple roles.

The Cast and Director Silver Wainhouse
Front row: Audrey Mikondo, Silver Wainhouse, Edouard Chény
Back Row: JaQuincy Atkins, Vanessa Dolman, Patrick Rameau
© Silver Wainhouse

Patrick Rameau has been selected to portray Beauford. A professional actor for stage, screen, and television, his work has been seen all over the world. He is also a playwright - his work entitled ROSARIES has been produced Off Broadway. His latest film script, The Fall, is currently in pre-production phase. Patrick is especially proud of his school, Actor without Borders, which opens in Paris this fall with the first rehearsal workshop of Othello.

Patrick Rameau
© Entrée to Black Paris

Vanessa Dolmen will portray a fictional character who Beauford meets on the train to Boston and the Harlem landlady who robbed Beauford of his possessions and money on his first day in New York City. She recently finished a run in the Paris musical production Maya, Une Voix about the late, great Maya Angelou. After obtaining a master's degree in English, Vanessa briefly imagined herself as an English teacher but her true calling got in the way! She has performed in the award-winning short film Barbara, several feature films, and several radio dramas, including Jake Lamar's Viper's Dream.

Vanessa Dolmen
© Entrée to Black Paris

Audrey Mikondo, also from the cast of Maya, Une Voix, will read the roles of Mrs. Sparrow, a black society matron who introduced Beauford to many prominent African Americans in pre-Depression Boston, and Delia Delaney, Beauford's mother. Audrey is a French actress who worked in communications before deciding to pursue acting. She studied theater in English and in French at Cours Florent, culminating with several performances at the Théatre des Bouffes du Nord in Pais. She recently co-created Cygnet Theatre, an English-speaking theater company that will present its third production, Much Ado about Nothing, at the end of the month at the beautiful Jardin des Arènes de Montmartre in Paris.

Audrey Mikondo
© Entrée to Black Paris

Edouard Chény will recreate James (Jimmy) Baldwin and will also read the roles of a man at the New York boarding house and a fictional character that Beauford converses with in a Paris café. As an artist, he is always looking to get involved in inspiring projects. His goal as an actor is to serve great stories and impact people on a big scale. He says that faith, authenticity and love are the words he tries to live by every single day.

Edouard Chény
© Entrée to Black Paris

JaQuincy Atkins will portray a fictional character whom Beauford meets on the train to Boston (this character and the one portrayed by Vanessa Dolmen are husband and wife). Additionally, he will portray as another fictional character that Beauford meets in a Paris café and a patient at Sainte-Anne's Hospital, where Beauford spent the last four years of his life. He is a graceful presence embodying light shining outward. Those who surround him can feel his warm, humble spirit and bright smile. With the gift of creativity, he strives to remind those with passions to express love and humility.

JaQuincy Atkins
© Entrée to Black Paris

Chény and Atkins model as well as act. Hailing from Los Angeles, Atkins is the only U.S.-born actor in the group.

Inspired by playwright Wainhouse's opening exercise during the first rehearsal, which required everyone to give a brief introduction of themselves and state a single word that described their feelings about participating in the reading, a bond quickly formed among the actors.

Playwright Silver Wainhouse
© Entrée to Black Paris

Emotions ran high several times as the story unfolded and the actors settled into their parts. If the energy generated during the rehearsal is any indication, the reading at Columbia Global Centers | Paris at Reid Hall will be ELECTRIFYING!

To see photos of the rehearsal, click HERE.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Knoxvillians Explore Beauford Delaney's Montparnasse

A few days ago, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to escort three residents of Knoxville, Tennessee on the Beauford Delaney's Montparnasse walking tour.

From left to right: Tom Whisman, Monique Y. Wells,
Rosa Mar, and Steve Cotham
© Entrée to Black Paris

Steve Cotham manages the Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection at the East Tennessee History Center in Knoxville. The McClung Historical Collection sponsored the historical marker that honors Beauford and his brother, Joseph, in Knoxville.

I was thrilled to be able to show Steve and his friends, Tom Whisman and Rosa Mar, the two plaques that Les Amis de Beauford Delaney had installed to honor Beauford in Montparnasse.

Rosa Mar at Hôtel Odessa
Photo courtesy of Steve Cotham

Steve Cotham at Hôtel Le M
Photo courtesy of Steve Cotham

I was also thrilled to take the group to Columbia Global Centers | Paris at Reid Hall, the space where the Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color exhibition was held in 2016 and show them several photos of the "Knoxville 11" enjoying the vernissage for that show. Columbia Global Centers | Paris is where the reading for Amazing Grace Is Yellow, Silver Wainhouse's play about Beauford, will take place on October 16, 2019.

Another highlight of the tour was the Montparnasse Cemetery, where James Baldwin would have liked to see Beauford buried. I shared before and after photos of Beauford's grave in Thiais Cemetery and explained the circumstances of his burial.

Beauford’s Unmarked Grave at Thiais Cemetery – July 2009
© Discover Paris!

Tombstone – August 2010
© Discover Paris!

A host of Knoxville events honoring Beauford have been scheduled for the next several months. Watch this blog for further information about the ever growing movement to honor him in his hometown!

To find out more about the "Beauford Delaney's Montparnasse" walking tour, send e-mail to .

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Delia Delaney is Adopted!

In last week's blog post, I shared that four of the six actors who will portray characters in the reading of Silver Wainhouse's play, Amazing Grace Is Yellow, have been "adopted" by donors who want to support the play.

This week, I'm pleased to announce that the actress who will read Delia Delaney's part (Beauford's mother) in the play has been adopted as well!

Portrait of the Artist’s Mother
(1930) Pencil, ink and watercolor on paper
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

Here's a preview of what you'll hear during the exchange between Beauford and Delia when you attend the reading (scene from Beauford's New York years):

BEAUFORD: Sometimes I hear crying. Sometimes crying and laughing at the same time. Moaning. Even… cussing… Why do they do that, Mama?

MAMA: Don't know baby. Wish l could carry that for you.

BEAUFORD: Mama, sometimes they stop when I paint. I think they're quenched by paint. When I make the right strokes, strokes they like, pleasing them, I can hear them drinking and getting full. Satisfied. I've discovered that some days they like yellow- some days red- orange even. They let me know. (he laughs softly). They still and watch.

MAMA: (holding his face). Look at me. Everything pauses at beauty, Beauford. Even people intent on destroying it. They stop if only for a breath -- look at it, recognizing it for what it is. Make beauty, Beauford. That's your gift. God given gift.

BEAUFORD: But why Mama? Why do folks want to destroy it?

MAMA: It's a power. The devil wants to destroy it. (upbeat). But the devil can't fight our songs. And your voice is another gift. When you sing… the way your voice is cloaked. When your voice dropped on your way to becoming a man. It dropped so. I thought I would have to take a train or dig a well to go get it. Yep it dropped fast. And Deep. (she laughs but is quickly serious). I'm your Mama, Beauford. I know. I see what you carry. Let’s sing. Keep the devil at bay.

Rehearsals for Amazing Grace Is Yellow begin on September 10th in preparation for our October 16th reading at Columbia Global Centers Reid Hall. We have made great progress with fundraising and are currently seeking donations to support our final actor, the venue for the reading, and production fees.