Friday, July 24, 2020

Bonjour Adrienne Fidelin, Man Ray's Muse and Model, and Beth's First Museum Quiz

Dear Friends,

Bonjour Paris recently relaunched its website with a beautiful new look - refreshed and ready for the reopening of museums and other "non-essential" activities. Please support Bonjour Paris, the insider's guide to la vie française by signing up for the weekly newsletter today -  Merci beaucoup

Photo from Roland Penrose, Portrait of Picasso, New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1971, page 64.
Photographed by Beth S. Gersh-Nesic

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the art historian Wendy A. Grossman about her fascinating article on Adrienne Fidelin, the little-known muse and model who lived with Surrealist  American artist Man Ray for about 5 years (1935-1940).  The photograph above records the tight-knit group of Surrealists vacationing during the summer of 1937, hosted by the gallerist Marie Cuttoli (now the subject of an exhibition at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia) and her husband Senator Paul Cuttoli. Note that Adrienne Fidelin, sitting on the extreme left, was identified as "a friend," as if the author did not know her.  That was far from the truth.  Adrienne Fidelin, known as Ady to Penrose et al., came from her birthplace Guadeloupe to Paris as young teenager, following the deaths of her parents. Dr. Grossman's essay about Ady, who was also the first black model to grace an American high fashion magazine, Harper's Bazaar, asserts that Picasso's painting Woman Seated Against Yellow and Pink II (1937) is based on her likeness. Indeed, we might consider this a Surrealist "portrait" in the same vein as other portraits from this period. In her Bonjour Paris interview Dr. Grossman described how she researched a person who became "invisible even in plain sight."

Claude Monet, Impression: Le Havre, 1872

Also in Bonjour Paris, my first museum quiz!  

Do you remember where you can see Claude Monet's Impression: Le Havre, the great namesake of the Impressionist movement?  Is it in the Musée d'Orsay or Musée Marmotton?  Test your memory of where to find Paris' best known works of art right here.

Bonne chance - et bon weekend,

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Exchange

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Fourth of July Greetings

Friday, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth 2020 - Celebrating 155 Years Since the End of Slavery

From the mouths of babes we learn so many historically significant facts. Schools have been teaching youngsters about Juneteenth through children's picture books for several years. However, if you haven't been around elementary school children for a while, you may not be up on your Juneteenth traditions. This year consider sharing All Different Now: Juneteenth, The First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson, adorned by the magnificent illustrations of E.B. Lewis.  Here is a sample on Amazon, along with other suggestions for books on the holiday. You can also check out your local libraries' websites and other websites on Juneteenth for information. Hopefully, Juneteenth will be an official national holiday next year.

Juneteenth Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19, 1900, in Texas
An annual celebration in Texas sinc 1866

Juneteenth 2020 marks the 155th anniversary of the arrival of Union General Gordon Granger in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was made law on January 1, 1863. While it was believed these African Americans were the last slaves freed, evidence tells us slavery was not totally abolished in the US territories until December 1865 with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Today, in the age of Covid-19, we can celebrate in social-distanced gatherings, such as one at St. Barnabas Church in Irvington, from 2 - 6 pm; Mount Vernon this morning on the steps of the City Hall; and Haverstraw City Hall, Rockland County, at 6 pm. Or virtually, through numerous programs online. In Greenburgh, N.Y, we have a motorcade at noon, followed by a Zoom presentation at 8 pm. The link is here.

Courtesy of the New York Public Library
Courtesy of the New York Public Library

Programs are available through the New York Public Library System throughout the day too, online.  For more information click here.

Let us rejoice in the celebration of freedom for all.
Best wishes,
Beth and the New York Arts Exchange

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Exchange

Thursday, June 4, 2020

#BlackLivesMatter More Than Ever - May Art Enlighten Us and Inspire Engagement

George Floyd Memorial in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 
on the wall of Cup Food, site of his arrest and murder by police

We stayed home to save lives during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic (which is still active).  We left home to save lives by protesting in the streets for justice, following the murder in cold blood of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Today each of us has been called upon to save lives through our individual actions. Together, each of us can contribute to the health and welfare of our brothers and sisters, at home and around the globe. We can start by supporting the movement #BlackLivesMatter.

Black Between Painting and History

To inspire you, the New York Arts Exchange presents a virtual exhibition of street murals dedicated to the memories of African Americans who were victims of racial bias and hatred. Their fates are linked to centuries of persecution, recorded in art. In their excellent and lavishly illustrated book Noir Entre Peinture et Histoire (Black Between Painting and History) Naïl Ver-Ndoye and Grégoire Fauconnier analyze the history of black people by category, laying bare the racist tropes that persist through the ages.

Here, as a postscript to their book, we present a few murals created to honor the men and women recently murdered by police and civilians. These public images offer a place to collectively mourn, reflect and resolve to end racism. We must never forget. 

George Floyd (1974-May 25, 2020)
Mural by Eme Freethinker  in Berlin (Picture Alliance/Nurphoto/© O. Messinger)

Trayvon Martin (February 5, 1995-February 26, 2012)

Michael Brown Jr. (May 20, 1996 - August 9  2014)

Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Mural 
Courtesy of Arcadia Publishing

Eric Garner (September 15, 1970 – July 17, 2014

Eric Garner and Michael Brown Jr. Memorial 
outside Spike Lee's studio in Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

                                         Sandra Bland (February 7, 1987-July 13, 2015

Mural by Kalkidan Assefa and Allan Andre, in Ottawa, Canada

Ahmaud Arbery (May 8, 1994 - February 23, 2020)

Mural by Theo Ponchevli, in Dallas,on Friday, May 8, 2020.
The artist said that he was inspired to paint the mural after seeing the video of Arbery’s death on a news broadcast and learning that today would have been his birthday.
 Tony Gutierrez/AP

Here are other tributes on Instagram.

In peace and in solidarity, 

Beth S. Gersh-Neకić, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Exchange

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day Greetings 2020

Dear Friends,

Well, we are all updating these days in order to shorten the great divide of social distancing.  How are you doing today?  I hope you take time to smell the roses, literally, since the sun came out and the winds feel gentler than yesterday.  Did you walk in the snow showers?  I got caught in a gust while noticing that our neighbors' roses were starting to bloom  What a contrast!  What a weird time we are living through these days.  

James  Abbott McNeil Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1: 
Portrait of the Artist's Mother, 1871

Mama Whistler is now in confinement with her artwork buddies inside the shuttered Musée d'Orsay.  (Did you know the painting lives in Paris?  However, Mrs. Whistler posed in London while living with her son. She was born in Wilmington, North Carolina and married her brother's friend George Washington Whistler, a widower with three children, in 1831.  She had 5 sons, but only 2 survived beyond childhood.  Her most famous offspring was the flamboyant James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who added his mother's maiden name to his own after she died in 1881.)

And here is a portrait photograph of the lady herself, better known as "Whistler's Mother":

Anna Matilda McNeill Whistler, 1850s

Wishing you a joyous day - celebrating your Mom, remembering your Mom, or being a Mom -
just enjoy and smell those roses.

(BTW: I will Zoom "Mothers in Art" through Byram Shubert Library in Greenwich, CT, on May 21st, at 7 pm - invitations will be sent out at a later date.)

With hugs and love,

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Exchange

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Zooming on May 7th - Art and Chaos: Past and Present A Fundraiser for Alliance Francaise de Greenwich

Please join me for a Zoom lecture on Thursday, May 7th at 5 pm

"Art and Chaos: Past and Present"

A survey of the various art movements during and after World War I and the Spanish Flu
as well as the response to Covid-19 in today's art

To attend, please RSVP 

or New York Arts Exchange

the Zoom link will be sent to you

This is a fundraiser - my contribution to Alliance Française de Greenwich

A $10 donation to AFG would be appreciated -

Merci beaucoup!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Fereshteh Priou: Poetry in Line and Form - A NYAE Exhibition

Tulips, print (limited edition), 22 x 28 inches

Hope springs eternal – as Spring eternalizes hope. On Saturday, April 25, we finally felt a seasonal warmth and gentle breeze between the much-needed April showers of the last week and today, Sunday. We have started our sixth week of “sheltering in place,” begun on March 20, 2020 in New York during the Covid-19 pandemic. To bring back the sun as the rain drops fall, the New York Arts Exchange is presenting an online exhibition of elegant flowers and other beautiful images limned by the multi-talented Fereshteh Priou, also known as the brilliant leader of the Proust Society of Greenwich. 

Iris, print (limited edition), 8 x 12 inches

Fereshteh hosts a group of dedicated followers traveling through all 7 volumes of Marcel Proust’s enormous novel In Search of Lost Time (published in French between 1913 and 1927; in English 1922 and 1931), one volume per year. Sponsored by the Alliance Française de Greenwich, we are the second set of pilgrims. The first group finished in December 2017. We began in January 2018.  Now in the third year of our voyage, usually anchored in the splendid Byram Shubert Library in Greenwich on Thursday nights, we have switched to Zoom during this period of “confinement.”  Aside from leading our monthly discussions, Fereshteh publishes her insightful essays on Proust and his novel, on the Proust Society website:

Carnation, print (limited edition), 8 x 12 inches

Fereshteh’s last essay “Proust & Confinement” brings attention to Marcel Proust’s final years, spent mostly in his cork-lined apartment on the Boulevard Haussmann. While ruminating on Fereshteh’s description of Proust’s self-imposed “confinement,” I thought about the artist’s own drawings, which miraculously confine forms within her masterfully executed lines, creating the illusion of a solid figure within the infinite space of an undefined background. Thus, the artist imposes “confinement” or "containment" (another word we hear so often these days) by marking the limits of a shape within a limitless field.

Red Orchid, print (limited edition), 22 x 28 inches

Feresteh Priou’s magnificently rendered drawings feel like metaphors for this moment. Here the artist deliberately defines the limits of the object versus its unseen surroundings, the figure against the visible background signifying an invisible presence, much like our confinement at home. We are “locked down” within our domestic or essential-work spaces, surrounded by so many unknowns.  And within our designated confines, we too might impose definition within the blanks spaces of our immediate environments and uncertain futures, establishing our “solid forms” (exercise, home schooling, housekeeping) in response to the amorphous background of the Covid-19 experience. 

Poppies, print (limited edition), 8 x 12 inches

To this end, we might allow our creative impulses to bloom, directing our energies to the material (artworks, cooking, craft) or the immaterial (writing, laughing, conversing) or somewhere in between (just sitting still to listen to the birds sing). Yet, in all this “doing” we are also becoming, limning portraits of ourselves for ourselves that unearth unexplored territories within our own minds - as well as capabilities untapped while keeping up with our former fast-paced, over-scheduled routines. 

Redhead, print (limited edition)

Hopefully, Fereshteh Priou’s quietly poignant drawings can inspire you to define your own creative endeavors.  May this period of “confinement” serve as the canvas upon which you delineate your own “figures” against the infinite “ground” of possibilities.

Green Dress, print (limited edition), 22 x 28 inches

Artist’s Statement

FERESHTEH PRIOU depicts the purity of its subject material through the simplification of line, with the idea that amongst the clamor of everyday existence, one can regain harmony by expressing life by emphasizing tranquility.

Line is a fundamental foundation of rendering representational forms and compositions stripped of ornamentation by reducing the subject matter to the purity of line which results in art exceptionally generative of the imagination. Ms. Priou explains her art as an elegant expression of the human essence, stating, “I believe simplicity is the essence of beauty and purity. I express my creativity by giving form to things with the force and value of pure and subtle, yet bold and simple lines. My work mostly depicts faces and bodies, conveying the peace, tranquility and serenity that we can evoke from deep within us despite the fear, anguish and anxiety surrounding us.”

Black, organically fluid lines burgeon beautiful frames of modest human forms. The bodies are captured through the light caress of line, which elegantly flows around the forms, hugging every line of the human form. Saturated pools of pure hues consume some reaches of Ms. Priou’s compositions, aiding in the energy within the organic forms. Ms. Priou reduces compositions to the essence of art, the line, an adept strategy engendering elegant works leaving much for the imagination to enjoy. 

Beach, print (limited edition), 28 x 22 inches

Artist’s Autobiography

Fereshteh Priou was born in Tehran, Iran. She moved to the U.S. to study for an MBA at George Washington University where she met and married her husband Michel. The family then moved to Paris, France and Fereshteh, who had a passion for arts since childhood, started her art education at the Académie de Port Royal in Paris. At the Académie, she learned to draw and paint under Jean Maxime Relange and Claude Schultz, who considered a good drawing technique the undisputed basis for a good painting. 

La Danseuse, ink on paper, 22 x 28 inches

A few years later, the family moved back to the U.S. where Fereshteh worked at various multinational companies, such as Deloitte & Touche, Hitachi Metals and ABB, Inc. She also raised a family while pursuing her passion for arts during her rare free moments. 

Reader, ink on paper, 16 x 20 inches

In the past few years, Fereshteh has been devoting more of her time to her artistic pursuits and has participated in many solo and group art exhibitions. Fereshteh is a long time resident of Greenwich, Connecticut and a member of the Greenwich Art Council, Greenwich Art Society and Greenwich Pen Women.  In March 2017 and March 2011, she exhibited her work in solo shows installed in the Bendheim Gallery, located in the Greenwich Arts Council.

To find out more about Fereshteh Priou's artwork, visit her website: Priouart

Contemplation, ink on paper, 22 x 28 inches

printed (limited edition), 22 x 28 inches

Voyage, ink on paper, 16  x 20 inches

Dream 1, ink on paper, 22 x 28 inches

Dream 2, ink on paper, 22 x 28 inches

Apples, acrylic and oil crayon on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

Pears, acrylic and oil crayon on canvas, 36 x 36 inches

Paris Balcony, print (limited edition), 28 x 22 inches

Looking into the future and beyond . . . . .

Best wishes to you and your families - 
Take care and stay safe,

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Exchange, LLC

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Marking the First Anniversary of the Notre Dame de Paris Fire

Chizuru Morii Kaplan, Parisian Rooftops III, 60 x 52 inches (Private Collection)

April 15, 2020 marks the first anniversary of the tragic fire that destroyed much of Notre Dame de Paris Today, in light of the Covid-19 lockdown, progress to restore this beloved cathedral in the City of Light has halted. The days of optimism for a swift recovery seem to belong to another era. Here is an update reported in December 2019 and a video of the Great Bell ringing to mark this occasion during an even greater tragedy throughout the world. 

Chizuru Morii Kaplan, Flying Buttresses, Paris, 29 x 41 inches (Private Collection)

Several weeks ago, I published a digital exhibition of Chizuru Morii Kaplan's extraordinary watercolor paintings of Notre Dame in Bonjour Paris (February 24, 2020). Please take a moment to study Ms. Morii Kaplan's work and read her moving statement.  Her memory joined recollections contributed by fellow BP staff writers, published last April.

May you be in good health and filled with hope as we all unite with the world to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.

Thank you for staying home.
Thank you for checking in with neighbors, friends and relatives. 
Thank you for supporting our medical staff, delivery people, supermarket staff, pharmacies, and food services preparing meals for everyone.  
And if you or a loved one is working on the frontlines--thank you so very much!. We salute your courage.

Take care,

Beth S. Gersh-Nesic, Ph.D.
Director and owner
New York Arts Exchange