I am happy to have Grace Teshima, an ex New Yorker like myself, as my Parisian of the Month.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in the Bronx and grew up in Lyndhurst, N.J. I moved back to the Bronx to go to the experimental college of Fordham University, which no longer exists. Then I lived variously on the upper East Side of NYC, and Glen Cove, Long Island. When and why did you move to Paris?
I moved to Paris in 1985. I had come to Paris for the first time in 1981 and fell completely in love with the city. I was lucky enough to be able to move here four years later.
Where did you live and what did you do when you first moved here?
When I first moved to Paris, I lived in the 14th for one month on the avenue du Maine, and then in the 8th near my children's school on the rue de Messine. I wrangled my four children who were in bi-lingual school. They were 2, 4, 7 and 15 years old at the time. I also got a lot of support from the groups I joined: AWG (American Women's Group), PAN (Paris Alumni Network) and WICE (Women's Institute of Continuing Education).
What are some of the most significant changes you’ve seen in Paris between now and when you moved here?
Paris has become an international, multi-cultural city in the 30 years I’ve been here. My oldest daughter who was the first to move back to NYC came to visit about 28 years ago, let’s say, and she remarked, “It’s funny. Everyone here is French.” You can’t say that any more by any means. People in Paris are from everywhere now.
I’ve lived on my street in Montmartre for 16 years now and have seen the transformation from mom-and-pop stores to chain boutiques. It’s a little too bad to see the independents forced out. Of course your own Marais was nothing like it is now three decades ago! I remember it as rather dark and dingy.
You used to do some acting, please tell us about your acting career.
Actually, I am still acting and singing. I am in class with the great Sarah Eigerman of Franco-americain Cinema Theatre, and singing with Christine Flowers. I’ve had bit parts in independent films. I love the work.
How and why did you start Chez Grace art events and did you have an art background?
I belong to a group called AARO (Association of Americans Resident Overseas) that helps people with taxes, health insurance, and social security. The group’s new members were going to have a welcome reception in my salon and I wanted to make it extra special, so asked my friend the artist Ronald Bowen if he could loan some of his big, hyper-realistic paintings for the soirée. He said yes, the paintings transformed the apartment, and I decided that I wanted to have new art on my walls and show artists from that moment on. I don’t have an art education, but I have learned so much since I started doing this ten years ago.
You like to network and put people together through Meetup. What are some of the events you organize and how often are they?
I do. I’m a people person. Last Saturday was a workshop on writing and freeing creativity with the artist and poet Christine Herzer. Christine has read her poetry at my house a couple times already and is so inspiring! The following Saturday, 30/1, will be a show of her own work plus a reading some of her work. We’ll have an acting workshop with my friend and teacher Sarah Eigerman here on February 7, which is a Sunday, and I’m talking with several other artists for an “artist-in-residence” program here.
The events are once or twice a month in my apartment, but sometimes I organize outings to interesting places, like Club Rayé, started by the très chic Kein Cross, and featuring my friend Sheldon Forest at the piano. I went with my group to Club Rayé every week for a month, and love it every time!
How and why did you start Chez Grace art events?
I realized early on that I am not cut out to be an art dealer. I love people and putting people together and am sensitive to the loneliness and isolation sometimes people feel when they arrive here. The Meetup platform is extremely easy to use and brings me many newcomers to Paris. I also use Facebook to communicate the events.
It’s been a privilege to work with such talent and when I had the opportunity, I said yes to hosting the chamber orchestra Sinfonietta Paris in their early days because I’m a big fan of their conductor, Michael Boone, and his vision. Spoken Word and Open Secret have performed here under the auspices of Jen Dick and Kate Noakes, and I’ve had a couple Writers’ Nights where authors read and discuss their work.
I would like to mention some fellow networkers and welcomers-to-Paris who are friends and have been inspirations: Jim Haynes, Patricia Laplante-Collins, and Catherine Aubin, who hosted the late, great ‘Club Culturel Franco-Americain.’
Who are some of your favorite artists working today?
My favorite artists are my friends Troy Henriksen, Barbara Gaile, Walkind Rodriguez,Marcus McAllister, Alexis Peskine, Barbara Savy (formerly Navarro), Mary Blake and Alan Smith, who lives & paints in Folkstone now.. All do excellent work and except for Troy, have shown in my salon.It’s a thrill to rub shoulders with creative people.
If you could invite one artist living or dead to your salon, who would it be?
That’s easy: Anaïs Nin. Reading her diaries in my early twenties, I was enthralled with her descriptions of Paris and fascinated with her life. I’ve read all the diaries including the unexpurgated version. I wrote her a fan letter in 1970 and shye wrote me back a hand-written, violet-colored postcard. Soon after that I met her at Douglass College in N.J. where she spoke. She was stunning in a long orange sweater dress and hammered gold breastplate. She was 64 at the time, and no one knew it, but had cancer. Elegant, gracious, unforgettable, inspiring!
What do you prefer about Paris?
I love the beauty and the romance of it. I'm still in love after thirty years. That's saying a lot.
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Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour
New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 195 euros per person (about $210)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
Click here to sign up for the next class or for more info.