Q&A with Alice Valdés-Forain 

Great-great granddaughter of French painter Jean-Louis Forain

Nineteen-year-old Alice Valdès-Forain isn't exactly following in her great-great grandfather's artistic footsteps. The descendant of the famous French Impressionist painter Jean-Louis Forain is studying economics, rather than painting, at Notre Dame du Grandchamp in Versailles, France.

But despite of her love of economics, Valdès-Forain is lending her time this summer to volunteering at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens throughout the exhibit, Jean-Louis Forain: La Comédie parisienne, from June 26th through October 9th.

The young Forain spoke to the Flyer about her volunteer duties, Memphis barbecue, and how she plans to help her great-great grandfather's legacy live on. — Louis Goggans

Flyer: The last major retrospective of Jean-Louis Forain's work was in 1978. How does it feel being part of this exhibit more than three decades later?

Valdès-Forain: I am very proud. I have always liked his work. I have great respect for it since taking art courses and finding out how hard it is to draw. I'm so glad that the people of Memphis can get the chance to know more about him and his wonderful work. 

What are your duties as a volunteer? 

I'm doing the installation of the exhibit. We have to take paintings out of crates and see if there have been any changes to them during the flight here [from Paris]. We have to hang the paintings. I'm also learning how the museum works and getting a better feel for paintings and exactly how an exhibit is put on.  

Do you have a favorite piece? 

It's hard to say, but there is one in the exhibit that I really like. The Fisherman is wonderful. It [shows] a man and his dog on a dock, and there's water under them and there's no shade. You feel like the man is flying in the air.   

Have you considered following in Forain's footsteps? 

I took drawing lessons, but I'm not that good at it. I believe that I have to promote his work and make it known to young people my age. They can have a great time walking through the exhibition at the Dixon Gallery.

What can people expect from the 250-page catalog of his work created by your mother, Florence Valdes-Forain? 

The catalog has descriptions of pictures, and it tells about his life. All the paintings of the exhibition will be in there. I hope people view the catalog as a souvenir. Hopefully in one year, they'll open it and remember how they enjoyed the exhibition. 

How is Memphis different from Paris?

The weather. It's cold in Paris right now, maybe 50 degrees in the summertime.  

Have you tried the barbecue here?

I've been to the Rendezvous and had the ribs. In Paris, we usually only have barbecue in the summertime. My mother has made me ribs back at home, and I loved them. But they're better here.


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