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Black Paris Tour Guide Only African-American In Obama-Themed Art Show In Paris

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SOURCE: Black News

Expatriate painter Ealy Mays, who is also a guide for Walking The Spirit Tours of Black Paris, is the sole African-American artist featured in the wildly successful Obama in Paris exhibition.

“I was astonished more than anything that there was no representation by African-Americans beside myself,” comments Texas-born Mays. “The gallery owner is missing the point.” While Paris’ African-American community numbers upwards to one thousand, less than a handful survive as full-time artists.

The exhibition began as a fundraiser for the presidential candidate on October 6th at Dorothy’s Gallery in the trendy Bastille district. Due to its popularity, and Obama’s win, an extended exhibition continues until January 26, 2009.

30 French and American artists were given less than a month to create pieces that illustrate the theme of Obama as the new hope for a united world. Calling himself a political artist, Mays bucked the more Utopian vision of his peers. Instead, he submitted paintings that reflect his trademark satirical and decidedly Black American perspective.

One piece, USS Obama, shows a submarine subtitled Run Silent, Run Deep. Another, The Big Boy Vote, serves up the apple-cheeked restaurant character Big Boy offering up a burger while his thought bubble focuses on Obama. Mays feels that Michelle Obama will have a major influence at the White House and created a series on the incoming first lady, one of which is entitled No More Mammies in the White House.

Some of Mays’ more controversial pieces were refused by Dorothy’s Gallery but he intends to exhibit them on January 19, 2009 at the Highlander Bar on the cobblestoned rue Nevers in the Latin Quarter. The cosy bar is a regular meeting spot with fellow African-Americans, including Democrats Abroad representative Zachary Miller and best-selling novelist Jake Lamar.

The Obama victory has created in Paris a sharp interest in the resident African-Americans. Although a world renown artist, Mays finds himself sought after now by gallery owners in the traditional Rue de Seine arts district. It was in these same streets just behind the world’s most famous museum, the Louvre, that Mays’ artistic predecessors – Henry O’Tanner, Beauford Delaney, Ed Clark and numerous young painters – eked out a living over the past century.

Eager to pay his respects to the rich African-American history in Paris, Mays has found another truly unique way to share African-American culture in the City of Lights. Since 2007 he has been a guide for Walking The Spirit Tours of Black Paris. A 13-year resident, he is proud to lead visitors and locals past the homes and haunts of expatriate artists, writers Richard Wright, James Baldwin, entertainers Josephine Baker, Bricktop, Bud Powell, and Sidney Bechet and many more. “We are the expression of African-American culture in Paris and the tours are an exercise in getting to the nitty gritty of where things are.”

Ironically, Mays first came to Paris on a Black tour with the Jack and Jill club of America in 1971. His 30-year career as a painter started at the age of 8, and he has undertaken several lengthy art residences in Mexico and Berkeley, CA, as well as at the prestigious, cutting-edge City of Arts in Paris.

Walking The Spirit Tours are the oldest existing black history tours of Paris and were created in 1994 by CEO and Guide Julia Browne. The exciting walking and bus tours transport participants through an inspiring and indepth discovery of 200 years of groundbreaking achievement in Paris and France.

The Barack Obama President, United World exhibition runs until January 26, at Dorothy’s Gallery, 27 rue Keller, 75011 Paris.

For Further Information on Walking The Spirit Tours, Contact:
Julia Browne
Tel: 519-497-0933


Written by Symphony

January 1, 2009 at 5:38 pm

5 Responses

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  1. I visited Paris last week and got a chance to check out the Dorothy’s Gallery exhibit — very impressive! But I’m disappointed to hear there was only ONE African-American artist represented, as this is such an historic time for black artists to express their creative thoughts about Obama’s rise. But MERCI BEAUCOUP for sharing about Ealy Mays’ work … great to know he’s representing!


    January 15, 2009 at 6:51 am

  2. By the way… I’ve linked to your blog post about Ealy Mays on my OWN new blog on international travel, Please check it out!


    January 15, 2009 at 6:52 am

  3. […] and even videos from 30 artists around the world — including African-American artist Ealy Mays – on the impact Obama’s ascent has had on the world. It should humble American leaders – […]

  4. Hi, I am planning to visit Europe in April and May. A mutual friend Carol told me about your sight. I am particularly interested in travel to London Paris and France. This will be a solo trip and wondered if you can offer advice about hotel/villas, getting around and the like. Thanks


    February 6, 2010 at 2:59 pm

  5. I really just wanted to say hello to Ealy. Always wondering how he did in life. He was a brilliant artist when I knew him back in Dayton. He was actually a neighbor and classmate of our family mostly my younger Brother but I came top know him better later in life downtown in the Oregon and such. Congratulations Ealy!

    John Elliott

    John Elliott

    August 9, 2010 at 6:51 am

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