Thursday, March 17, 2016

Give1Project - Global Leadership Summit at UNESCO

On Friday, March 11, I had the pleasure and privilege of attending activities organized as part of the Give1Project Global Leadership Summit for 2016.


GIVE1PROJECT's mission is to invest in young global leaders, empowering and inspiring them to continuously strive for greater social, economic and political participation in their communities, both locally and internationally. Previous summits have been held in Cotonou, Benin (2013), Casablanca, Morocco (2014), and Washington, D.C., U.S.A. (2015).

The Paris summit was a four-day affair, with Friday's activities consisting primarily of two panel discussions about leadership. One hundred and fifty persons from 30 countries and 25 nationalities were in attendance.

Conference attendees
© Discover Paris!

The morning started with a brief introduction of the day's session by Jacqueline Cofield, director of Give1Project's Give1Arts program for the arts and cultural entrepreneurship. (Ms. Cofield organized the Global Educator Program that was an integral part of the Beauford Delaney art exhibition that took place in Paris from February 4 - March 15, 2016).

Jacqueline Cofield, Give1Arts of Give1Project
© Discover Paris!

This was followed by a presentation of UNESCO by Victoria Dellinger, External Relations and Public Information officer; spoken word by Ibson Littérapure; and an introduction to Give1Project by founder and CEO, Thione Niang.

Victoria Dellinger, UNESCO
© Discover Paris!

Thione Niang, Give1Project
© Discover Paris!

Give1Project executive director Dr. Anta Sané then introduced the first panel discussion, which was entitled "Women in Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change."

Dr. Anta Sané, Give1Project
© Discover Paris!

Panelists for "Women in Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change"
© Discover Paris!

Among the panelists were:

Karen Andre, White House Liaison to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Amaal Nuux, Somali-Canadian singer and songwriter; and Danielle Sassou Nguesso, president of the Sounga Foundation.

Karen Andre, White House Liaison, HUD
© Discover Paris!

Amaal Nuux, singer-songwriter
© Discover Paris!

Danielle Sassou Nguesso, Sounga Foundation
© Discover Paris!

This discussion went far longer than anticipated due to numerous comments given in response to a young man expressing his belief that women have no problems with inequality today and asking the panel whether women themselves prevented other women from achieving the success they desire.

Give1Project founder Niang then introduced the second panel, which was entitled "Against the Odds: Empowerment and Leadership."

Panelists for "Against the Odds: Empowerment and Leadership"
© Discover Paris!

Among the panelists were:

Mamadou Cisse, youngest mayor in Senegal; and Debo Folunrosho, Founder and Creative Director at Applause Africa.

Mamadou Cisse, mayor of Kédougou, Senegal
© Discover Paris!

Debo Folunrosho, Applause Africa
© Discover Paris!

Senegalese rapper and activist Simon Kouka delivered a powerful and impassioned speech about leadership and giving back to Africa.

Simon Kouka, Senegalese rapper and activist
© Discover Paris!

The afternoon ended with the presentation of Outstanding Entrepreneurship Awards to start-up business owners

Outstanding Entrepreneurship Award Winners
(far left, center, and far right)
© Discover Paris!

and Karen Andre presenting a gift from the White House to Morocco's Ambassador to UNESCO, H.E. Mrs. Zohour Alaoui.

Karen Andre and H.E. Mrs. Zohour Alaoui
(Anta Sané and Thione Niang in background)
© Discover Paris!

During the course of the summit, participants also enjoyed a welcome at the French Business Confederation MEDEF, a visit to the Presidential Palace, and a gala dinner and award ceremony hosted by Royal Air Maroc.

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Bob Tomlinson: Fragments of Myth Exhibition in New York

Bob Tomlinson is a Jamaican-American artist, retired French professor, and long-time Paris resident who made the City of Light his home “by accident.” He lived in Paris during the 1968 student uprising, moved away for several years, and then came back and established permanent residency in the city. He and I share a burning passion for investigating the history of African-American Paris, particularly regarding Black Montmartre during the interwar years. His story is one of 24 African-American and Afro-Caribbean expatriate stories that I feature in the Discover Paris! publication Black Paris Profiles.

Bob Tomlinson and Anna Comnena
Image courtesy of Bob Tomlinson

Viridian Artists, a contemporary art gallery in Chelsea, NY, will be hosting an exhibition of Bob's latest works from March 15 - April 6, 2016. Called Fragments of Myth, the show will feature several complex canvases done in Bob's inimitable style.

Josephine Baker: The Myth of Africa
2016 Oil and collage on canvas
Image courtesy of Bob Tomlinson

Bob combines areas painted in oil with elaborately textured and printed papers, as well as digitally manipulated photographs. His work flows uniquely between the figurative and the abstract. Art critic Lawrence Downes writes that:

The subjects of the paintings are echoes of myths, be they ancient, literary, historical or personal. However, both formally and philosophically, they can reach us only as fragments.

The Expulsion from the Garden
2016 Oil and collage on canvas
Image courtesy of Bob Tomlinson

Bob was born in Brooklyn, New York. He has shown widely in Paris, London, Amsterdam and New York and is represented in many international public and private collections, including those of the Clark-Atlanta University Museum, City University of New York, the late Dr. Maya Angelou, Lord and Lady Hirshfield, M. Franco Trecanni di Montichiari, Mme Linda Weil-Curiel, and Herr Frits Bernard. A graduate of Pratt Institute and the CUNY Graduate Center, he is also a scholar of French Literature and Aesthetics and has lectured and published in both disciplines, as well as in Afro-American Studies.

In addition to Black Paris Profiles (2012), Bob figures in the book entitled 100 New York Painters by Cynthia M. Dantzic (Schiffer, 2006) and is one of the artists studied in a recent Masters Thesis by Charlotte Barat entitled "Artistes noirs américains à Paris (1945-1969). Vie de bohème, liberté artistique et négociations identitaires (Université de Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2014)." He is also the subject of a film project by the documentary filmmaker Louis Massiah.

Fragments of Myth opens March 15 with a reception on Thursday March 17 from 5-8 PM. The work will be on view through April 2. Bob will be at the gallery on Saturday, April 2, the final day of the exhibition, for coffee and conversation from 3-4 PM.

Viridian Artists, Inc.
548 West 28th St #632
NY, NY 10001

Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12-6 PM
For further information please contact Vernita Nemec, Director at 212 414 4040 or

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Beauford Delaney's Montparnasse - Entrée to Black Paris' Newest Walking Tour

When I organized the Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color art exhibition at Columbia Global Centers | Paris at Reid Hall, I created a new Entrée to Black Paris walking tour to honor the artist.

Beauford Delaney
© Carl van Vechten 1953

Beauford moved to Paris in 1953 and died here in 1979. For the majority of these years, he lived in the historic artists' district called Montparnasse. The walk features his homes and haunts in the 6th and 14th arrondissements, and includes two sites that bear plaques commemorating him on their façades.

Mural - Théâtre de la Gaîte - Montparnasse
 © Discover Paris!

On the day after the exhibition's grand opening, I gave the tour for the first time to students from the University of Arizona and their professor, Dr. Bryan Carter. This group traveled to Paris for the purpose of creating an Augmented Reality app that allows exhibition attendees and owners of the exhibition catalog to access information and spoken word performances on the Internet that are associated with several of the works in the show.

Professor Bryan Carter (far right), University of Arizona students,
and Monique (front left)
© Discover Paris!

The second group to experience the tour consisted primarily of travelers from Beauford's hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. Four of them represented the Knoxville Museum of Art, which has since expressed keen interest in hosting the exhibition during the spring and summer of 2017.

Knoxville group at Théâtre de Poche
© Discover Paris!

One of the participants remarked that it was very special for her to see Knoxville's name displayed on two façades in Paris!

Plaque at Hôtel Le M
© Discover Paris!

The following week, teachers attending the exhibition and participating in J Rêve International's Global Educator Program for professional development took the tour.

At Hôtel Le M
© J Rêve International

At Montparnasse Cemetery
© J Rêve International

Crossing boulevard du Montparnasse
© J Rêve International

Their mission in attending the exhibition was to learn about STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education and to explore ways to incorporate the arts into teaching practices for their respective disciplines with Beauford's life and art serving as inspiration. For a full week, the group attended and participated in several conferences on these themes, including a meeting with the Fulbright Commission.

The exhibition was originally scheduled to run from February 4 to 29, 2016, but due to its tremendous success, it has been prolonged until March 15, 2016! Entry is free and registration is required to visit. To sign up for a visit, click here.

If you'd like to experience the Beauford Delaney's Montparnasse walking tour, send e-mail to

.

Beauford Delaney
Rue Guilleminot
France 1973
© Errol Sawyer


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Thursday, February 25, 2016

They Called Him "Chocolat" - Exhibition at the Maison des Métallos

Since its release on February 3, the film Chocolat, starring César-winning actor Omar Sy, is getting good reviews in the press (3.4/5) and even better ones from spectators (4/5)*.

Chocolat - movie flier

Gérard Noiriel's book entitled On l'appelait "Chocolat", le veritable histoire d'un homme sans nom (They Called Him "Chocolat," the True Story of a Man without a Name) and the exhibition of similar name are also generating considerable attention.

The exhibition is being held at the Maison des Metallos, a large cultural center in Paris' 11th arrondissement. Located on the first floor, it consists of several panels and videos (in French) that present the life of Rafael Padilla, the Cuban slave who became famous in France for his role as the clown named "Chocolat."

On l'appelait "Chocolat" - exhibition flier
© Discover Paris!

Chocolat bore the brunt of the slapstick antics of a white clown named "Foottit."

Foottit et Chocolat
© Discover Paris!

The two men created an act that entertained thousands at the Nouveau Cirque, 251 rue Saint-Honoré, in the 1st arrondissement.

Panel describing Foottit et Chocolat's performances at the Nouveau Cirque
© Discover Paris!

In the center of the middle room of the exhibition, two costumes from the Roschy Zem film attract the eye. Chocolat traditionally wore the suit on the left in the image below, while Foottit wore the costume on the right.

Costumes from the film Chocolat
© Discover Paris!

There were several visitors present on the afternoon that we saw the exhibit, which I found remarkable given the off-the-beaten-track location of the Maison des Métallos. The presentation is simple but filled with information and images that bring Rafael's story to light. In one of the panels, we discover that Chocolat was hired to perform the lead dramatic role in a production called Moïse that was staged at the Théâtre Antoine (10th arrondissment) in 1911. The French public was not ready to accept a black man in such a role and the production failed.

In this same panel, we learn that Chocolat was only given the name "Rafael Padilla" upon his death!

Behind the wall where the fourth segment of the exhibition is displayed, a Lumière Brothers' film of two Footit and Chocolat performances play in a permanent loop. But more interesting for me were the videos in the first room in which Noisiel is shown in Havana, investigating the places that Padilla might have frequented during his childhood (he was sold as a slave at approximately 10 years of age), and in Paris, retracing the steps of the successful clown through the arrondissements where he lived and performed. Of note is the fact that Noisiel consistently refers to Padilla as "tu", the diminutive form of the French pronoun "vous" (you) throughout the Paris video.

The most fascinating tidbits of information that I gleaned from this exhibition are that Padilla:

- Performed at the Hôtel Talleyrand, which would become the site of the U.S. Consulate in Paris.

- Beginning in 1908, regularly visited Paris hospital to provide "laughter therapy" for sick children; received a medal for this service in 1911.

- Performed in over 1500 roles on stage throughout his career in France.

In the final two panels, there is information about recent portrayals of Padilla, including the Zem film. There are also photos of the unveiling of the Foottit et Chocolat plaque at 251, rue Saint-Honoré, the former address of the Cirque Nouveau.

Image of unveiling of the Foottit et Chocolat plaque
© Discover Paris!

Foottit et Chocolat plaque
© Discover Paris!

The exhibition is open until February 28. Entry is free. If you are in Paris, I strongly encourage you to go there to see it!

Maison des Métallos
94 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
75011 Paris
Metro: Couronnes (Line 2); Parmentier (Line 3) arrêt
Tuesday through Saturday 2 PM to 8 PM
Sunday 2 PM to 7 PM

*Source: AlloCiné (February 24, 2016)

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