When people think of the presence of foreign cultures in Miami, Cuba's comes first, followed perhaps by Haiti, Columbia, or Israel. France would generally be far down the list. With French Weeks Miami, the French-American Chamber of Commerce is trying to change the pecking order.
Started seven years ago, the celebration that began October 23 and goes through November 13 hosts Francophile events while partnering with 17 local French restaurants and 13 spas.
"We wanted to organize a French presence in Miami" said Pascale Villet, one of French Weeks Miami's organizers as Miami's director of the French-American Chamber of Commerce. "We are having lots of events, from a lunch with the French ambassador of the U.S. on November 4 to tennis matches on November 8."
Wednesday night's event at Wynwood's Hangar Gallery will center around a French-American art connection made during the second world war. An American journalist Varian Fray worked to give refuge to many of the surrealist artists at the time, giving them shelter when there was chaos all around them. Alain Guyot and Diana Pollin who are both part time South Florida residents wrote a book about the subject and hope to share their research with attendees.
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"The book, of course, was written in French," said Guyot, "but they are looking to translate a version into English."
But central to the evening is the art that will be displayed. "The Villa Air-Bel in 1940," titled after the setting where the surrealists were being protected, features artists including Anouck Jordaa, Benedicte Blanc-Fontenille, and Capucine Safir, among others. The mediums range from painting, to sculpture, to ceramics all longing for that surrealistic quality that would be of a place at the Villa Air-Bel 74 years earlier, with the hopes that from the past of France something beautiful can spring within Miami.