Thursday, February 23, 2017

Black Voices in Paris at Dorothy's Gallery

Dorothy's Gallery is celebrating Black History Month with a two-part series of events called "Black Voices in Paris."

The first event, which took place on February 17th, featured historian and writer Curtis R. Young presenting “When the blues people sang America,” followed by a concert of jazz, blues, and gospel music by Ursuline Kairson.

The house was full when Polley took the floor to welcome attendees.

Full house
© Discover Paris!

Dorothy Polley
© Discover Paris!

She explained that she has delegated the curatorial responsibility for the gallery to Olivier Sultan of Galerie Art-Z so she can focus solely on organizing cultural programs. This month's Black Voices in Paris events are the kickoff for a series of diverse, exciting programs called "United Voices," which she will organize throughout 2017.

"United Voices" evenings will include music, film screenings, readings, debates, and video conferences with artists, activists, and journalists direct from the USA. Polley says they are conceived not only to entertain,

but above all to encourage awareness and belief in the importance and power inside each of us. We can stand up together, unite our voices, for democracy and justice ... for human rights, freedom of expression and movement, the health and eternal life of our planet ...

In France and the U.S., we are actively building a network of artists, activists, and the public of all ages ... joining together the many groups that exist, and encouraging new voices.

Curtis Young gave his presentation remotely via Skype (the method by which future speakers will be able to speak directly to event attendees from the U.S.). He talked about Lt. James Reese Europe and the 369th Infantry Regiment, emphasizing the musical genius of Europe and the manner in which the regiment took France by storm in World War I through military prowess and the introduction of jazz to the French population.

Curtis R. Young
© Discover Paris!

Following Young's talk, singer Ursuline Kairson regaled attendees with jazz, blues, and gospel songs. In keeping with the spirit of the evening, she performed many numbers whose lyrics spoke of freedom and tolerance. The audience gave her and her guitarist, Thierry Paul, a rousing ovation at the end of the evening.

Ursuline Kairson
© Discover Paris!

The second "Black Voices in Paris" event is entitled "From Lynching to Trump - Racism in the United States." Doria Dee Johnson, an historian specializing in African-American 20th century culturee, will deliver this presentation remotely. Her work is intricately linked to her family history - her great-great-grandfather, Anthony Crawford, was lynched in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1916.

This event is scheduled for Sunday, February 26 at 5 PM.

For more information, contact the gallery by phone or by e-mail (see below).

Dorothy's Gallery
27, rue Keller
75011 Paris
Telephone: 01 43 57 08 51
Metro: Bastille
Price: 12 €

Thursday, February 16, 2017

L'Afrique des Routes - Exhibition at the Musée du quai Branly

Contrary to conventional wisdom, Africa has always been an open continent.

Stairway leading to L'Afrique des Routes
© Discover Paris!

The exhibition L'Afrique des Routes at the Musée du Quai Branly - Jacques Chirac opened on January 31, 2017. It highlights the circulation of African cultures throughout history, both across the continent and across the globe. Through the "routes" theme, it looks at commerce, religion, and colonization and features major cities/towns, objects, and African expertise in arts, crafts, and healing.

There are seven sections to explore:

  • Routes and means of transportation
  • Cities - Milestones along routes
  • Commercial routes
  • Spiritual and religious routes
  • Esthetic routes
  • Colonial routes
  • Epilogue: A nation of artists

Timelines for the migration of African peoples from before the Common Era through 2006 are posted on red panels throughout the exhibition.

Timeline for migration during the 14th through 17th centuries
© Discover Paris!

Animated maps trace the routes between African empires, the spread of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and the European colonization of the continent over the centuries.

Empire Routes - 8th Century
© Discover Paris!

The objects displayed range from what one might consider archetypal, such as masks and jewelry, to items such as this mancala game sculpted from a block of salt,

Mancala salt block
Late 20th century
Salt block, red and blue pigments
Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, Paris
© Discover Paris!

this ceramic vase with an Ethiopian head as the motif,

Vase sculpted from an Ethiopian Head
The Darius Painter
320 BCE
Puglia, Italy
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
© Discover Paris!

and this cameo from the collection of King Louis XIV.

Cameo representing an African King with Bow and Quiver
16th century
Agate, gold, diamonds, rubies
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
© Discover Paris!

From the section on religious and spiritual routes, I was most impressed by this painting that presents the story of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

The Legend of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon
ca. 1930
Oil on canvas
Amhara style, Ethiopia
Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, Paris
© Discover Paris!

Sommet de Masque, the signature work for the exhibition, is found near the end of the show. It represents the aspirations of a young man to fly to destinations far removed from his homeland.

Sommet de Masque
ca. 1930
Wood and pigments
Baga style, Guinea
Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, Paris
© Discover Paris!

As with most exhibitions at the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac, L'Afrique des Routes is densely packed with objects, art, videos, and information. If you want anything more than a cursory walk through, plan to spend several hours here.

L'Afrique des Routes
West Mezzanine
Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac
37, quai Branly or 217, rue de l'Université
75007 Paris
RER: Pont de l'Alma (Line C)
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday - 11 AM to 7 PM; Thursday through Saturday - 11 AM to 9 PM. Closed Mondays.
Entry fee: 10€
Reduced fee: 7€
Through Sunday 12 November 2017


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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Galerie Art-Z - Contemporary African Art at Dorothy's Gallery

When I read the invitation from Olivier Sultan and Galerie Art-Z to come to the inaugural opening of a new exhibition space dedicated to contemporary African art in the 11th arrondissement, I was intrigued.

For one thing, I had wondered what had become of Sultan since the closing of his last gallery, Les Arts Derniers, in the 3rd arrondissement.

For another, the invitation indicated that Sultan was partnering with Dorothy Polley, owner of Dorothy's Gallery, for this opening.

So I set off for 27, rue Keller - the address of Dorothy's Gallery - to satisfy my curiosity.

Galerie Art-Z's inaugural exhibition is called Itinéraires. Paintings, sculptures, and photographs by thirteen contemporary African artists are on display in this show, including photos by the legendary Malick Sidibe and a mask by Mozambican artist Gonçalo Mabunda.

Works by Saidou Dicko
© Discover Paris!

Sculpture by Joe Big-Big
© Discover Paris!

Photographs by Malick Sidibé
© Discover Paris!

Masque II
Gonçalo Mabunda
2013 Cartridges and weapons of war
© Discover Paris!

An enthusiastic group gathered for the event.

Exhibition attendees
© Discover Paris!

Galerie Art-Z proprietor Sultan and Dorothy Polley have come to an agreement through which Sultan will mount several exhibitions of works by African artists each year in this space, which will continue to operate under the name "Dorothy's Gallery."

Dorothy Polley serves as president for Carré Bastille, an organization of artists, artisans, small business owners, and restaurants in the Bastille area in Paris. Through her American Center for the Arts, she will continue to host cultural and political events that focus on "discussing justice, human rights, and the planet through art" at Dorothy's gallery.

Itinéraires will be on display until March 1, 2017.

Galerie Art-Z at Dorothy's Gallery
27, rue Keller
75011 Paris
Métro: Bastille or Voltaire
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday from 2 PM to 7:30 PM and by appointment

Art-Z logo
© Discover Paris!


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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Celebrating 10 years of existence - La Tuile à Loup

I first wrote about Eric Goujou and La Tuile à Loup in December 2015.

When Goujou contacted me recently regarding the newsletter he publishes about the boutique, he sent me the issue that describes his celebration of his tenth anniversary in business. I found it so inspiring that I asked if I could republish it here. He graciously consented and I'm happy to share it below.

Eric Goujou inside La Tuile à Loup

10 Years at La Tuile à Loup
26 Nov 2006 - 26 Nov 2016

by Eric Goujou

I can’t believe it has already been 10 years since I replaced Marie-France Joblin as owner of La Tuile à Loup. This well-established boutique created in 1974 has certainly come a long way from being a showroom in Paris, of French pottery and traditional French artisanship, to THE BOUTIQUE, known for its exigency that promotes quality and taste – a boutique known throughout France and well beyond.

My love of the “arts de la table”, interior design and home décor has been part of who I am for as long as I can remember, so it seemed as if it was my destiny to take up where Marie-France left off, grabbing the reigns of ownership of La Tuile à Loup – a place with so much history and where I was already a long-time client. I had no regrets when I left my corporate job for this more labor-intensive line of work.

To some it may have seemed a folly that I, an amateur in the arts of pottery, would consider taking over this already prestigious house. After all what did I know about running a small business? The artisans and artists who had a long history of working with the previous owner were certainly on their guard as they waited to see if I would make it through the night, so to speak. Even some clients did not hesitate to “put me in my place,” reminding me that they knew more about the boutique than I did due to their long history of patronage.

I tried not to take offense. I simply rolled up my sleeves and got to work to prove not just to others that I could do it, but also to myself. I observed, I listened, I learned to really look at the pieces that I didn’t know of before – I even learned how to create pottery myself, not anything that equaled the artistry of these longtime masters, but enough to increase my knowledge and appreciation. My knowledge increased, as did my appreciation for particular themes such as the animal motifs and shapes used by a few of the artisans I work with.

But I didn’t do it all alone. With the help of my assistant Maguy, who has been at la Tuile à Loup for 24 years now, I also learned about the world of art sales. I can’t thank her enough for her patience and devotion.

Today, 10 years later:

I must pay tribute to all the artists and artisans who work tirelessly to create the beautiful pieces that adorn the boutique’s shelves, to my own personal delight as well as that of my fellow art lovers – you, my clients.

Which brings me to YOU. How could I not thank you as well? La Tuile à Loup is like a SELECT CLUB to which each of you have a lifetime membership. I can easily think of at least 100 of you who regularly have been coming through these doors for over 25 years. It's thanks to your loyalty and dedication to the finest quality that La Tuile à Loup is able to continue to exist – that the artists and artisans can continue their work that remains singularly exceptional. I say it with every purchase I ship out to you and I will say it again here, your purchases help to preserve the savoir-faire of a traditional art form.

The challenges ahead:

Over the last few months, I have been looking towards financing the future of La Tuile à Loup – to bring it to the next level. Over the last 10 years I have been able to discover and refine what La Tuile à Loup has to offer in the world of home décor and look towards what else it could bring to this milieu. I am currently working on two projects that I hope will see the light very soon.

For me the most challenging part of my task that I will never relinquish, is to continue to stand by the quality by which you have come to know and respect this boutique, without compromise or shortcuts. Many people have a hard time understanding why artisanal creations sometimes carry such a hefty price tag. It’s true that today it is very possible to buy dishware at any price. Why would you buy a single plate costing 100 euros when you can fine a plate elsewhere for only 20 euros with the latter certainly looking adequate enough on the surface? I mean if you really wanted to, you could find a plate for even less than 1 euro.

The answer, for me, is value and I don’t mean financial value. It all really depends on what we want - the choice is an individual one. What sort of lifestyle do we wish to live?

Personally, I compare the artists and artisans with whom I work to renowned surgeons who live by their reputations. It’s their years of experience that allow them to give the best of themselves on a daily basis. They certainly deserve to be compensated at a just price and their work should be appreciated for what it is – ART. I often call up this example to remind myself and any who remain in doubt of the value of these works.

This is not about charity. Maybe you could say that it is philanthropic. It is certainly an ART DE VIVRE. A little something exceptional giving added value to our purchases beyond just the object itself.

I love the idea that I am assisting my clients in the creation of their history or legacy. I invite you (and your friends) to join me at the table I have set at la Tuile à Loup, where craftsmanship and elegance abound. Perhaps you will find inspiration.

Thank you for your continued patronage. For more of what is available at the moment at our boutique, please check out our blog. Happy browsing!

From La Tuile à Loup Paris,

Yours truly,



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