Director of Paris "Friends of Beauford Delaney" to speak at Knoxville Museum of Art

@ Knoxville Museum of Art
Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Dr. Monique Y. Wells, founder and director of the organization dedicated to preserving Knoxville-born Beauford Delaney’s artistic legacy in Paris, will speak at the Knoxville Museum of Art on Thursday October 20 5:30-7:30pm followed by a reception with cash bar.  The program, jointly sponsored by the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, the East Tennessee History Center, the Knoxville Museum of Art, and the Knoxville (TN) chapter of The Links, Incorporated, is free and open to the public.

A 23-year resident of Paris, Dr. Wells co-founded the travel planning service Discover Paris! and created the company's Entrée to Black Paris tours and activities that bring the African-American experience in Paris to life.  Monique has shared stories about the African Diaspora's rich history, culture, and contemporary life in Paris in newspapers, magazines, and e-publications, including the International Herald TribuneLos Angeles Times, and New York Times. She is co-author of Paris Reflections: Walks through African-American Paris and author of Black Paris Profiles, which features the stories of 24 contemporary African-American and Afro-Caribbean expatriates.  Her first book, Food for the Soul, was named Best Nonfiction Book of 2001 by The Sistah Circle Book Club and was featured on Al Roker's Food Network television show Recipe for Success.  With a preface by Michelin-star chef Alain Ducasse, the French edition of Food for the Soul has helped introduce African-American culinary art, history, and culture to France.

Dr. Well’s freelance writing led her to uncover the story of Beauford Delaney's unmarked Paris burial place.  She subsequently founded Les Amis de Beauford Delaney (Friends of Beauford Delaney) as a French non-profit association. In her endeavor to raise funds to place a tombstone at Beauford's previously unmarked grave, she became increasingly passionate about this artist's story and about his art.  She recently organized the first-ever exhibition of Beauford’s paintings from Paris private collections.

Beauford Delaney lived his final decades abroad in Paris and died there in 1979, but maintained close ties to Knoxville and family here throughout his life.  His brother Joseph, also a distinguished artist, is perhaps better known locally than Beauford because Joseph eventually returned to his hometown, where he died in 1991. 

In Knoxville three institutions dedicated to aspects of the area’s history and culture—the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, the East Tennessee History Center, and the Knoxville Museum of Art—have been joined by the Knoxville (TN) chapter of The Links, Incorporated, a volunteer service organization of women dedicated to enhancing and enriching the lives of the underprivileged and underserved, to support efforts to make Beauford Delaney better known in his hometown.  The evolving Beauford Delaney Project calls for placing historical markers to designate the birthplace of Beauford and his brother Joseph and other sites associated with their early training in Knoxville; to bring an exhibition of Beauford’s work from Paris to Knoxville; to conserve and exhibit recently acquired works by Beauford at the KMA; to create a curriculum unit about Beauford and Joseph Delaney and their importance; and to explore the restoration and possible adaptive reuse of the Delaney family home recently purchased by the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. 

According to Beck President Reneé Kesler, “Beauford Delaney is by far the most important artist Knoxville produced in the twentieth century, at least in terms of national and international reputation.  He was friends with and beloved by the most respected cultural and intellectual figures of his age.  He was a close friend and mentor to novelist, playwright, and social critic James Baldwin.  Georgia O’Keeffe, who rarely did portraits, painted Beauford’s.  He was the subject of an affectionate essay by great American writer Henry Miller.  Yet many people in Knoxville are not familiar with this native son and his distinguished legacy.  We hope the Beauford Delaney Project will change that.” 

For more information, contact Kate Faulkner at or 865.525.6101 ext 246.