Thursday, December 31, 2015

Beauford Delaney Exhibition in Paris

Happy New Year from Entrée to Black Paris!

In two recent ETBP blog posts I mentioned that plans are underway for a Beauford Delaney exhibition in Paris.

Today, I'm sharing details about this groundbreaking show and Entrée to Black Paris' involvement in it!

I recently founded a U.S. non-profit organization called Wells International Foundation (WIF). Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color (formerly entitled Beauford Delaney and Paris: A Breathtaking Evolution)is the foundation’s inaugural project. Three of WIF’s focus areas will come together through the exhibition – the arts, study abroad, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).

To bring the project to fruition, WIF is partnering with a number of organizations, including Les Amis de Beauford Delaney, a French non-profit association that I founded in 2009, and Columbia Global Centers | Europe at Reid Hall in Paris. Columbia Global Centers is providing 1400 sq ft of exhibition space that will permit the display of over 40 paintings and works on paper by Beauford Delaney (1901-1979), most of which have never been seen by the general public before. The grand opening is scheduled for February 3, 2016 and the show will run from February 4-29, 2016. This will be the first solo exhibition of Beauford's work in Paris since the 1992 show organized by the Galerie Darthea Speyer.

Portrait of Beauford Delaney
1953 Carl Van Vechten

Beauford Delaney
1957 Oil on canvas
Centre Pompidou, Paris
© Estate of Beauford Delaney,
by permission of Derek L. Spratley, Esquire,
Court Appointed Administrator

During the spring semester, Columbia University will be offering an undergraduate course entitled "Le Pari(s) du Jazz,” taught by Professor Alexandre Pierrepont, at Reid Hall. Upon learning of WIF’s plans for the exhibition, Professor Pierrepont decided to incorporate it into the course in the following ways:

  • Spoken word artist Mike Ladd will speak at a public event about jazz in conjunction with the course. He is personally acquainted with Beauford’s biographer, David A. Leeming, and appreciates Beauford’s work. Given that his talk will be held in the exhibition space, Ladd will speak about the works in the exhibition as well.
  • The university will host a public screening of a documentary about the African-American experience in Paris. Entitled Paris Noir, When African Americans Came to Paris (Blue Lion Films, 2015), the film includes several references to jazz and to artists, including Beauford.
  • I will give a private presentation of Beauford’s art to the undergraduate students of the class.

Mike Ladd (detail)
Image courtesy of Mike Ladd

J Rêve International, an organization that fosters visual and performing arts, creative education, and global exchanges to transform lives and communities, will host a Global Educator Program workshop on STEAM education and multiple intelligences inspired by Beauford’s life and work. Six teachers from New York, South Korea (via Ohio), and Texas will participate in the week-long workshop designed to develop experience that equips them with the global competencies necessary to bring an international arts perspective to their schools.

Jacqueline Cofield, founder of J Rêve International
Screenshot from Beauford Delaney Paris Program video

Additionally, the University of Arizona and WIF are working together to organize the Augmented Reality Project that I described previously on this blog. Six students, led by Professor Bryan Carter, will come to Paris to create an app (a small, specialized program that is downloaded into mobile devices) that will allow persons attending the exhibition to view videos on their smartphones that provide information about the paintings. Mike Ladd will provide commentary for several of these videos. The teachers from the Global Educator Program will be able to use this app during their workshop in Paris and take the technology back to their respective school districts in the U.S. at the end of the program.

Teachers and students will also enjoy the newest Discover Paris! walking tour, Entrée to Black Paris' Beauford Delaney’s Montparnasse, which I created for the exhibition.

Going forward, WIF will work with Discover Paris! to support its study abroad initiatives and with Discover Paris! and Les Amis de Beauford Delaney to support its arts initiatives.

The University of Arizona students are currently raising money for their trip to Paris and have created a 2’15” video that explains why they are so passionate about this project. Click on the link below to view it and make a donation to support them. If you need a last minute tax deduction for 2015, this is a great way to get one!

University of Arizona Students Travel to Paris for Art/Technology Project

University of Arizona Students
Screenshot from U of A fundraising video


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Eric Goujou and La Tuile à Loup

It is becoming increasingly rare to find a person who devotes his life, not only to his passion, but also to inspiring others to live up to their passion and potential.

Eric Goujou is one of these persons. He is the proprietor of La Tuile à Loup (the Wolf Tile), a ceramics boutique in Paris' 5th arrondissement.

Eric Goujou
© Discover Paris!

La Tuile à Loup - façade
© Discover Paris!

The Wolf Tile
© Discover Paris!

Goujou took over this 41-year old establishment in September 2006, when the previous owner retired. Having been a customer of the shop prior to becoming its owner, he already had firsthand knowledge of the quality of the merchandise sold there. He left a career in private banking and finance to dedicate himself full time to the preservation of the craft of ceramic making in France.

A native of Cameroon, Goujou describes himself as "métissé culturel" ("culturally mixed"). He says that he's French with regard to nationality and mores - particularly with regard to his love of fully enjoying time spent around the table at mealtime as well as being surrounded by beautiful, carefully selected objects, each of which tells its own story. He is Anglo Saxon with regard to a desire for practicality (though not for its own sake) and he attributes his love for the colors and raw materials that go into his merchandise to his African roots.

In telling me this, he took great pains to describe for me the method used to create "aptware," ceramics made from earth of different colors and molded (not turned) and polished into the vividly colored objects that he sells in his boutique.

© Discover Paris!

Aptware - cross section
© Discover Paris!

Goujou loves what he calls l'art de vivre, the ability to construct one's life according to a preferred lifestyle. Buying fine ceramics and other household items and USING THEM (as opposed to setting them on a shelf or hanging them on a wall for display) are manifestations of this art.

La Tuile à Loup display
© Discover Paris!

Goujou's commitment to his customers is extraordinary. As an example, her related a story of a client who, after looking around the shop and admiring an item that was beyond his financial means, purchased another item that he could afford and took it home. The gentleman returned that same day, saying that after having seen the object that he truly wanted, he couldn't feel satisfied with the one he had purchased. He asked whether he could work out a payment plan for the item he truly desired. Because client satisfaction is Goujou's uppermost priority, he agreed and the man was able to purchase the piece that his heart truly desired.

Just as extraordinary is Goujou's attention to details about his customers. During our interview, two American men came into the boutique to buy gifts for one of Goujou's clients. Goujou immediately went to his computer to research the last item that the client had purchased and then proceeded to search his cabinets until he found the perfect items to accompany it.

While Goujou's colleague carefully wrapped the gifts, the men and I struck up a conversation. They told me that their friend is a regular at the boutique and spends hours there each time she visits Paris.

Another man visited the boutique while I was there. He also struck up a conversation with me, expressing enthusiasm about the exquisiteness of La Tuile à Loup's merchandise. He said that he comes by the store just to marvel at it almost as often as he comes to buy things. Seeing the expression on his face and the way he threw his hands in the air with delight as he glanced around, I thought to myself that he looked like the proverbial "kid in a candy shop"!

Ceramic trays
© Discover Paris!

Fine linens
© Discover Paris!

Ceramic "Lucy"
© Discover Paris!

Jar with cat lid
© Discover Paris!

Goujou spends a fair amount of time during the year traveling to visit his vendors, who are located throughout France. He uses these occasions to encourage them to continue to create works that require long and often arduous hours of effort, to give them new ideas for products based on what he's learned from his clients, and to assure them that he prefers that they produce beautiful, quality items instead of shifting toward mass production in the quest for a lower price per item.

Goujou is committed to explaining to new customers why the objects in his boutique cost what they do - each is hand crafted and one of a kind.

For his regular clients, no explanation is necessary.

La Tuile à Loup
35, rue Daubenton
75005 Paris

Open Monday: 1 PM to 6 PM; Tuesday through Saturday: 11 AM to 6 PM


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Nappy or Not Nappy? A Round Table Discussion at the Musée Dapper

On December 5, the Musée Dapper hosted an event called "Libérer les cheveux (Liberate Hair): Nappy or not Nappy?"

Billed as an encounter between Professor Maboula Soumahoro of François-Rabelais University in Tours and Rokhaya Diallo, journalist, activist, and author of the recently released book Afro, it was actually a round table discussion during which Professor Soumahoro interviewed five persons about their hair and what wearing it natural has meant for them.

Cover of Afro by Rokhaya Diallo
Image from

Aurélie Leveau, general administrator of the museum and creator of the video installation Afriques Plurielles that is being shown as part of the Chefs-d'oeuvre d'Afrique exhibition, introduced Soumahoro to a full house. She reminded attendees that one of the three segments of the installation, called "Libérer les cheveux," examines ancient and contemporary rituals around hair.

Aurélie Leveau
© Discover Paris!

Nappy or Not Nappy? - Audience
© Discover Paris!

Professor Soumahoro, who has been a visiting lecturer in Africana Studies at Barnard College and at the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University in New York, opened the afternoon by showing images of several celebrities who have worn or currently wear their hair naturally.

Image of Janelle Monae
© Discover Paris!

She followed this with a short clip from the video You Can Touch My Hair that was co-produced by one of the panel members, Antonia Opiah,

Scene from You Can Touch My Hair
© Discover Paris!

and then gave a presentation on the historic, cultural, and political ramifications of the transatlantic slave trade and the systematic denigration of everything about black people, including their hair. She emphasized that the "Nappy" movement is not new, but rather a renewal of a struggle to find beauty and dignity in natural hair.

Maboula Soumahoro
© Discover Paris!

Soumahoro began the interview session with Rokhaya Diallo, who talked of how she considers her short afro a militant hairstyle because no other French television journalist "talks of serious things and has hair like hers." She mentioned that when people living in France decide to "go natural," family and friends living in their ancestral countries of origin often don't understand or appreciate it.

Rokhaya Diallo
© Discover Paris!

Diallo also talked about why she chose to include North Africans (Maghrébins) in the book, stating that these populations suffer the same stereotypes and have the same difficulties in maintaining natural hair as do black Africans. This topic was a natural introduction to the second interview of the afternoon.

Fatima Aït Bounoua, professor of modern letters, teaches at a high school in Seine Saint-Denis. She told how her mother tried to "tame" her curly locks when Fatima was a child so that she would not look like Aïsha Kandisha, the witch of Moroccan legend. She spoke poignantly about how much of the self-image that young North African girls have of themselves is centered on the texture of their hair and remarked that she's had students tell her she would be pretty if she straightened her hair.

Fatima Aït Bounoua
© Discover Paris!

Chrystèle Saint-Louis-Augustin spoke from the perspective of being a fashion model and shared that her natural look is what inspired Benetton to select her for its United Colors of Benetton campaign in the mid 90s. She said she's always worn her hair natural, even when it was clearly not in her professional interest to do so. She has become accustomed to hair stylists at photo shoots being inexperienced with how to work with her hair and needing her guidance in doing so.

Chrystèle Saint-Louis-Augustin
© Discover Paris!

Dancer and choreographer Fabrice Taraud was the only man on the panel. He commented that his hair seems to evoke chaos in the minds of those who meet him and remarked how, because of his small stature and his long hair, people who don't know him often assume he is a woman. He recounted that people reach out and touch his hair, sometimes simultaneously asking permission and other times not. He said his mother entreated him to do "something" with it - cut it or braid it - because she was afraid he would not be able to find work with long natural hair.

Fabrice Taraud
© Discover Paris!

Taraud said his young son has natural hair and people think it's cute. He's waiting to see what people's reaction to his son's hair will be when he becomes a young teen.

Rounding out the panel was Antonia Opiah*, founder of and the Unadorned Media network. Antonia is exploring the cultural differences among different African Diaspora populations regarding natural hair in a docu-series called Pretty. She stated her belief that the interest in and increasing passion for natural hair is forming cross-cultural bridges and fostering increased understanding across the globe. She mentioned a peculiar state of affairs in the U.S. where, in several states, hairdressers are not legally allowed to braid hair because they are not taught to do so in beauty school and therefore do not have a license to do so.

Antonia Opiah
© Discover Paris!

Professor Soumahoro and others on the panel asserted that this situation also exists in France, concluding that "officially, nappy hair does not exist" in the world of cosmetology here.

Afro contains photographic portraits of 110 persons - men and women, French and non-French - who shared what it means to wear their hair natural, in braids, or in dreadlocks. Issues range from core beliefs about self-worth and economic implications in terms of employment to practical matters such as where to find a hairdresser and hair care products adapted to natural hair.

Collage of portraits from Afro projected during
"Nappy or Not Nappy?"
© Discover Paris!

Photographer Brigitte Sombié was not present at the event.

*Don't miss reading this powerful post by Antonia Opiah: "Can I Touch Your Hair?"


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Art and Food Pairing™: Chefs-d'Oeuvre d'Afrique and Café Dapper Loïc Dablé - Part 2

In Part 1 of this Art and Food Pairing™, I wrote about the extraordinary exhibition, Chefs-d'oeuvre d'Afrique, which is currently on display at the Musée Dapper.

This week, I'm sharing my review of the museum's restaurant, Café Dapper Loïc Dablé.

Café Dapper Löic Dablé is only open on Friday evening and weekends. On Saturday and Sunday, customers have a choice between lunch, dinner, or brunch menus.

Café Dapper dining room
© Discover Paris!

The menu from Saturday, November 21 consisted of the following:


Soupe de courge à la pèbè (Butternut squash soup with "false nutmeg" from Cameroon)

Risotto poulet fumé or Brandade de lieu noir, pousses d'épinard (Smoked chicken risotto or black pollock purée with spinach sprouts)

Pannacotta bissup (Hibiscus pannacotta)

(Lunch was a two-course meal consisting of entrée-plat (starter and main course) or plat-dessert (main course and dessert) for 29€. Note that entrée means "starter" in French.)


Salmon gravelax with pickled radishes

Scrambled eggs with cream

Persimmon and banana fruit salad

Pancakes (sic) Kinkeliba (an herb used for tea)

Hot beverage and fruit juice

Café Dapper Menu d'Art
© Discover Paris!

We noted that there were three waiters working the room, which we found to be unusual considering the small size of the café. We had the chance to interact with each of them during the course of our meal. All were friendly and accommodating.

Tom ordered a Guinness Foreign extra stout before deciding upon the menu he preferred. It was brewed in Cameroon and had an alcohol content of 7.5%, which is well above the ~4% of traditional Guinness brewed in Ireland. He described its flavor as being assertive and bitter, like strong, unsweetened coffee.

Guinness Foreign Stout
© Discover Paris!

I ordered a glass of a 2014 South African red wine called Douglas Green, which was a hearty, peppery, medium-bodied wine with animal notes that mellowed into flavors of ripe red fruits. I discovered that it was the perfect accompaniment for my meal.

Pinotage Douglas Green 2014
© Discover Paris!

Tom elected to try the brunch, while I chose the lunch menu. I decided to go for the entrée-plat option and looked forward to tasting the soup, followed by the chicken risotto. As we waited to be served, we enjoyed our respective beverages.

For the salmon dish, slices of two kinds of pickled radish provided agreeable flavor contrast to the chunks of succulent salmon that had been marinated in brine.

The smooth and buttery scrambled eggs had been perfectly prepared.

Slices of persimmon and banana constituted the fruit salad, which was served without a fruit-juice base. The banana tasted like banana – nothing special there – but the persimmon was sweet and flavorful.

Salmon gravelax with pickled radishes, banana-persimmon salad,
and creamy scrambled eggs
© Discover Paris!

The texture of the pancake (there was only a single, small one) was firm, not soft as anticipated. Served with caramelized sugar-syrup, it tasted quite good, but was quickly consumed and left Tom wishing that there had been a stack of at least three or four of them.

Pancake kinkeliba
© Discover Paris!

The hot chocolate lacked the rich chocolate flavor that Tom always looks for in this beverage, but he declared it to be adequate nonetheless. He found the sweet juice of passion fruit to be refreshing.

My butternut squash soup was thick and satisfying without being creamy. Garnished with a single leaf of flat parsley and flavored with pèbè, the "false nutmeg" from Cameroon, it reminded me of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.

Soupe de courge
© Discover Paris!

The chicken risotto dish was superb! It consisted of four slices of smoked chicken breast that rested upon a generous bed of herbed risotto seasoned with foam collected from milk in which hot peppers had been cooked. This gave a lovely spicy kick to the dish!

Risotto poulet fumé
© Discover Paris!

While we were both satisfied with our meals, there was definitely something amiss with the service.

Lunch/brunch crowd at Café Dapper
© Discover Paris!

Tom received all of his food at once, but he did not receive the hot chocolate that he ordered with the brunch. (It is normally served at the beginning of the meal.)

On the other hand, I received nothing for quite an extended period. And when I was finally served, my main dish was set before me instead of my entrée.

When I called attention to this mistake, the waiter apologized profusely and asked if I were angry. He sheepishly suggested that because the dish was hot, I might want to go ahead and eat it. He assured me that he would bring out the soup immediately thereafter. He brought Tom's hot chocolate, and later, the passion fruit juice.

The soup was served quickly after I finished the main course, but there was another delay when I requested salt and pepper and a second glass of wine. I began to laugh at the accumulation of these missteps, and when my wine was served, I found that there was more than the standard portion in my glass. This was either a mistake in my favor or a gesture of apology!

Finally, the waiter came over and asked if I had ordered dessert, forgetting that I had already received the two courses I had ordered. I, too, had forgotten that I was only entitled to two courses and said that I was ready to order. The waiter quickly recovered his memory and said with a smile that he would offer me the dessert at no charge as a means of apologizing for the prior gaffs.

The pannacotta bissap was a traditional preparation of sweet, semi-dense Italian cream with a thick hibiscus syrup layered on top. It was perfectly delectable!

Pannacotta bissap
© Discover Paris!

At the end of the meal, we asked to meet Chef Dablé. He greeted us warmly and firmly shook my hand. I explained that I planned to write this article about him and asked if he would mind taking a photo with me. The waiter then chimed in and said that he would take a photo of Chef Dablé, Tom, and me. Chef was in his street clothes and ready to leave, but he graciously went back into the kitchen to don his chef's attire. The waiter was very accommodating and took multiple shots so that we could choose among them.

From left to right:
Tom Reeves, Chef Loïc Dablé, Monique Y. Wells
© Discover Paris!

We thanked them both and prepared to leave.

As we walked toward the exit, another customer walked up to Chef Dablé and exclaimed how much he and his party had enjoyed their meal. They were deep in conversation when we left.

Chef Dablé discusses wine with a customer
© Discover Paris!

Though the service during this meal was uneven, the waiters were gracious and of good humor and the food was beyond reproach. I will happily return to Café Dapper to give it another try.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Art and Food Pairing™: Chefs-d'Oeuvre d'Afrique and Café Dapper Loïc Dablé - Part 1

For this Art and Food Pairing™, there's no need to leave the art venue to find the restaurant. Both are conveniently located in the same building!

The Musée Dapper's current exhibition, Chefs-d'Oeuvre d'Afrique (Masterpieces from Africa), is not to be missed. Though I don't pretend to have seen much in terms of African art and artifacts outside of Paris, I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw there!

According to documentation provided by the museum, some of the most important works in the world have been brought together here for the first time. These pieces of outstanding form and beauty are representative of the great cultures of Africa.

Chefs d'oeuvre d'Afrique
Ground floor exhibition room
© Discover Paris!

The exhibition is divided into two parts: Central Africa and West Africa. It consists of masks, statues / statuettes, headdresses, weapons, and personal items such as jewelry that were used for purposes as varied as honoring ancestors, initiating adolescents into adulthood, and assuring fertility for women. The pieces on display were selected because of their visual appeal as well as for the roles that they served in the societies that created them.

Happily, the museum allows photos (without flash) to be taken during this exhibition. So I'm pleased to share images of some of the works that I found to be most stunning.

Collage - AKAN tête (head)
17th century Terra Cotta
Ghana - Hemang (Twifo) region
© Discover Paris!

BAMANA / MARKA masque ntomo (ntomo mask)
Wood, caury shells, vegetable fibers, metal, and pigments
Mali - San, Siânro, or Soro region
© Discover Paris!

KOTA/MAHONGWE figure de reliquaire (reliquary figure)
Wood, copper, and brass
© Discover Paris!

LUBA Ceremonial Ax
Wood, iron, copper, and pigments
Democratic Republic of Congo
© Discover Paris!

FON Statue representing le Roi Glèlè (King Glèlè)
Ancient Kingdom of Dahomey (Benin)
© Discover Paris!

Short films also contribute to this exhibition. In the anteroom on the ground floor, a video called Afrique Plurielle is shown on three walls. It unites vintage images, photos, and film clips to examine ancient and contemporary rituals around hair; skin painting, scarification and tattooing; and death.

Scene from Afrique Plurielle
© Discover Paris!

Scene from Afrique Plurielle
© Discover Paris!

Scene from Afrique Plurielle
© Discover Paris!

In the back corner of the upper floor of the exhibition, a second video shows a young man walking across parched earth and then shows scenes of his mother performing a ritual through which she calls upon the gods to bring rain to the land and to protect her son.

After viewing the exquisite works on display, take the stairs to the lower level of the museum to enjoy a fabulous meal of African fusion cuisine by Chef Loïc Dablé.

I'll present my review of this restaurant experience in Part 2 of "Art and Food Pairing™: Chefs-d'Oeuvre d'Afrique and Café Dapper Loïc Dablé."


Entrée to Black Paris!™ is a Discover Paris! blog.