- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2005

“Lafayette, nous voici!” announced Col. Charles E. Stanton, an aide to Gen. John Pershing, as the Americans arrived in France during World War I. Well, Washington, consider the favor returned: “Paris on the Potomac” a months-long series of events and promotions meant to celebrate the influence of France on Washington is here.

Washington’s tourism officials are betting Americans of all stripes will regard the celebration of all things French in our nation’s capital, designed by Franco-American architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant, as tres chic. After all, l’Enfant envisioned Washington, D.C. “on a dimension proportioned to the greatness which the capital of a powerful empire ought to manifest.”

Timed to begin with love on Valentine’s Day — and end with a reminder of what Americans have sacrificed for France — on Memorial Day — “Paris on the Potomac” is an ambitious citywide program that will show Washington’s French influences and look past current Franco-American differences in international policy.—STED France’s recent opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq.heaters, restaurants and hotels over the next four months.

“There’s still a lot of angst between the U.S. and France from a government perspective … Let’s see if we can improve the situation through arts and culture — forget about the politics,” says William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive officer of the Washington DC Convention & Tourism Corporation.

The convention and tourism corporation is sponsoring the festival in partnership with the American Experience Foundation (the corporation’s cultural education arm), Cultural Tourism DC and the Embassy of France.

“From a strategic perspective, it works,” Mr. Hanbury says. “There’s a strong affiliation between Washington, D.C., and France and Paris. We’re showcasing Washington’s extraordinary arts and cultural institutions. I say let’s have at it.

“We have very deep connections with the French. If we defrost the negatives between the U.S. and France, I would hope the people in the White House notice that.”

Just look at the history: Washingtonians walk on L’Enfant’s street plan and honor his tomb at Arlington National Cemetery. The city has Lafayette Park (named for the Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolution) and the Rochambeau bridge (a span of the 14th Street Bridge named for the Comte de Rochambeau, who with his French troops helped force Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown).

Most intriguing of all, Washington has a key to the Bastille, presented to President George Washington by Lafayette in 1790 and now on display at Mount Vernon.

Mindful of Washington’s French connections and the symbolism of getting the French Embassy involved in “Paris on the Potomac,” Mr. Hanbury says, “Let’s return some of that affection to the French — and if it improves the economy of D.C., so much the better.”

• • •

It all started when tourism officials looked on the calendar and saw that early this year Washington would showcase three exhibitions on artists who were French or lived in France.

“We thought, ‘Wow, we’ve got a perfect set of circumstances we need to take advantage of,’

” Mr. Hanbury says.

Thus was “Paris on the Potomac” born, part of an ongoing effort by the American Experience Foundation to educate the public about arts, culture, American democracy and the city’s unique heritage.

Kathryn Smith, founding executive director of Cultural Tourism DC, points out that this is the fourth time that Cultural Tourism DC has teamed with the DC Convention & Tourism Corporation for a major cultural gala.

In 2002, the groups headlined “Jacqueline Kennedy’s Washington,” following it in 2003 with “Blues & Dreams: Celebrating the African American Experience in Washington, DC.” Last year, the opening of the World War II Memorial was the cornerstone of Cultural Tourism DC’s promotions.

About 140 cultural institutions work with Ms. Smith’s group. “This is a culturally rich city beyond the monuments,” she says. For last year’s World War II Memorial events, 45 percent of visitors arrived from outside the city, she says.

“They eat and shop in our neighborhoods, bringing economic development to the city. A rising tide lifts all boats.”

• • •

Of course, the French-American alliance has always had its subtleties. L’Enfant himself is not exempt from the occasional tussle, as some researchers take pains to emphasize his American spirit as opposed to his Frenchness.

“L’Enfant signed his name ‘Peter,’—” says George Washington University historian Kenneth Bowling, stressing that the city’s prime designer — who arrived here in 1777 and spent the rest of his days here until his death in 1825 — considered himself an American and anglicized — or americanized — his name shortly after his arrival in this country.

Mr. Bowling is the author of “Pierre Charles L’Enfant: Vision, Honor and Male Friendship in the Early American Republic” and co-editor of the First Federal Congress Project (a GWU effort aimed at publishing the documentary history of the First Federal Congress, which sat from 1789 to 1791).

L’Enfant, Mr. Bowling maintains, became “Pierre” again only when the McMillan Commission — the group charged in 1901 with redeveloping Washington’s urban core — rediscovered his work.

And “Pierre” it was when L’Enfant’s remains were transferred from his grave on a farm in Prince George’s County to Arlington in 1909 a move Mr. Bowling says had its political side: L’Enfant was used by President Theodore Roosevelt, he says, to get closer to the French instead of the Germans in the years before World War I.

While the vista from the engineer’s tomb on a hillside at Arlington National Cemetery helps to imagine all that “Paris on the Potomac” takes in, one can begin anywhere.

So, make like the 19th-century French visitor and writer Alexis de Tocqueville and journey in your own back yard to see and hear Washington’s French connections.

No need to take notes. Just pick and choose what’s on the playlist.

Art shows lead the way, as they did in the thinking of the tourism experts who devised this celebration.

Drop in first at the National Gallery of Art—, where three major exhibitions — “Toulouse Lautrec and Montmarte,” “Andre Kertesz” and “Fauve Painting from the Permanent Collection” will keep museum-goers occupied through May and, in the case of the “Montmartre” show, into June.

Take a look at the Phillips Collection’s “Modigliani: Beyond the Myth” and the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ “Berthe Morisot: An Impressionist and Her Circle.” Both run into May.

Hillwood Museum and Gardens is showing Marjorie Merriweather Post’s collection of 18th-century French art, and through April 2 will allow a glimpse of diamond and platinum earrings that once belonged to Marie Antoinette. The Kreeger Museum has a delightful show of French impressionists, but get there soon: Degas’ “Femme se coiffant” leaves for the National Gallery on March 1.

Over at the American Red Cross “Views of World War I Paris by American Red Cross Artists” spotlights the photography and painting of Lewis Wickes Hine, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Cameron Burnside,all spelling cq all of whom documented the Red Cross’ work in France after the Great War.

And at the Black Fashion Museum, you can see “Une Ameriaine a Paris: 25 Years in the French Capital,” a show highlighting the career of designer Carol Mongo, the first black American to be appointed director of the Parsons School of Design in Paris.

Prints, maps and documents give another view of how mericans see their capital city and that of France. The National Building Musem—’s “Symbol and City” exhibition traces the effect of the L’Enfant design on the city’s planning. The —U.S. Capitol Historical Society

is showing French-inspired art and architecture in the nation’s capital. The U.S. National Archives

will offer “Americans in Paris,” using diaries, journals, photographs, and film to tell the stories of Americans from Benjamin Fraklin to Jacqueline Kennedy whose encounters with France have afected American life.

There’s more.Fil, of course, is a French specialty, and the Embassy of France is partnering with several Washington institutions to bring the city a trove of French classics:

The AFI Silver Theatre in Silve Spring will resent a Bertrand Tavernier retrospective, with Mr. Tavernier showing up in person for the April 18 Washington premiere of “Holy Lola,” his film about a French couple who travel to Cambodia to adopt a baby girl. The new wave director Agnes Varda will appear in person at a retrospective of her films being shown at the National Museum of Wome in the Arts.

At the Embasy’s own Maison Fancaise, patrons of te Environmental Film Festival can screen two films by the celebrated director Jean-Jacques Annaud.

Also in the mix are music and the live performing arts. Alfred de Musset’s “Lorenzaccio” is at the Shakespeare Theatre throgh Mach 6. Imagination Stage will show “Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood.” The new Atlas Performing Arts Center will host three evenings of cabaret, beginning March 13 with “The World of Jacques Brel,” featuring chanteuse Sally Martin and tenor Byron Jones.

At the Corcoran Gallery of Art, listen to “twilight” concerts of 17th- and 18th-century music, played on original instruments, in the Salon Dore, a gilded room removed from the hotel de Clermont in Paris and given to the Corcoran in 1925.

For tours, sign up with Washington Photo Safari for photography lessons in the style of Henri Cartier Bresson, Bike the Sites’ “Biking L’Enfant’s City” tour and UC Tours’ bus trip through the Washington world of Jacqueline Kennedy.

“Paris on the Potomac” hotel packages are available for out-of-town visitors at the Sofitel Lafayette Square, the Fairmont (“French Poodle Package”), the Hotel George, the Jefferson, the Madison Hotel, the Four Seasons Washington and others.

French cuisine is high on anyone’s list: French chefs will teach a Smithsonian Associates program. Michel Richard Citronelle in Georgetown plans cooking classes. Special French delights abound at many restaurants, including 1789 Restaurant, Le Paradou, Brasserie Les Halles, IndeBlu, the Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons.

So, mesdames et messieurs, enjoy le grand tourist initiative. And for complete details, see parisonthepotomac.org.

Experiencing Paris in D.C.

“Paris on the Potomac” is a cornucopia of cultural and commercial events meant to bring the spirit of France to Washington from now through May 30, and in some cases beyond. Its breadth can only be suggested here.

Below are highlights only. For complete details, log on to the project’s Web site at www.parisonthepotomac.org.

Visual arts

• Hillwood Museum and Gardens: 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. “Hillwood’s French Collections and Interiors.” Marjorie Merriweather Post’s collection of 18th-century French art associated with the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. A new audio tour explores in detail Mrs. Post’s world-class collection of decorative arts. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, select evenings and Sundays. Admission $5-$12. Reservations required. 202/686-5807 or hillwoodmuseum.org.

• Kreeger Museum: 2401 Foxhall Road NW. “French Impressionists on Foxhall.” Follow a specially prepared gallery guide to the Impressionists and their circle in the Kreeger collection. Open to the public 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, February through May. (Guided tours by reservation 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday.) $8. Lecture on the impressionists in the collection 1:30 p.m. March 17; free with admission. 202/337-3050 or kreegermuseum.org.

• National Gallery of Art: Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. “Andre Kertesz.” A major exhibition of the work of the celebrated photographer (1894?1985), a Hungarian emigre who moved to Paris in 1925 and created some of the most celebrated works of 20th-century photography, including iconic black and white images of the Eiffel Tower and modern urban street life. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Feb. 14-May 15. Admission free. 202/842-6353 or www.nga.gov.

• National Gallery of Art: Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. “Fauve Painting in the Permanent Collection.” The National Gallery commemorates the 100th anniversary of the naming of the art movement in France. In 1905 critic Louis Vauxcelles coined the epithet “fauve,” or “wild beast,” to describe the explosion of color in the work of a group of young painters exhibiting that year at the Salon d’Automne. The exhibition features works by Matisse, Braque, Derain, and de Vlaminck. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Feb. 14-May 30. Admission free. 202/842-6353 or www.nga.gov.

• National Gallery of Art: Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. “Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre.” A groundbreaking exhibition on Toulouse-Lautrec and his circle in Montmartre. The more than 250 multimedia works focus on those by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) but include many by his contemporaries. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. March 20-June 12. Admission free. 202/842-6353 or www.nga.gov.

• National Museum of Women in the Arts: 1250 New York Ave. NW. “Berthe Morisot: An Impressionist and Her Circle.” From Paris’ most respected impressionist art museum, the Musee Marmottan-Monet, come more than 40 of Berthe Morisot’s (1814-1895) best paintings and drawings, highlighting her artistic innovations as one of the founders of impressionism. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Feb. 14-May 8. Admission $8-$10. Free for youth 18 and under and members. 202/783-7370 or nmwa.org.

• The Phillips Collection: 1600 21st St. NW. “Modigliani: Beyond the Myth.” This groundbreaking exhibition of 90 works by Amadeo Modigliani (1884-1920) is the first museum show of his work in Washington in more than 20 years. It includes paintings, drawings, and sculpture from his 14-year career in Paris. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Thursday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday. Feb. 26-May 29. Admission $12-$14. Free to members and children under 18. Gallery talk on Modigliani, Picasso and Soutine 6 and 7 p.m. March 10; free with admission. 202/387-2151 or phillipscollection.org.

Documents, prints, photographs

• The American Red Cross Visitor Center: 1730 E St. NW. “Views of World War I Paris by American Red Cross Artists” spotlights the photography and painting of Lewis Wickes Hine, Henry Ossawa Tanner and Cameron Burnside, all of whom documented the Red Cross’ work in France after the Great War. 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Opens Feb. 11. Admission is free. 202/639-3300 or redcross.org/museum.

• The Black Fashion Museum: 2007 Vermont Ave. NW. “Une Americaine a Paris: 25 years in the French Capital.” Exhibit spotlighting the contributions to the arts and apparel industry of Carol Mongo, model, designer, illustrator, journalist and educator, the first black American to be appointed as the director of the Parsons School of Design (Paris). By appointment only. Feb. 14-May 31. 202/667-0744 or bfmdc.org.

• The Foundation for the National Archives: 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. “Americans in Paris.” Diaries, journals, photographs, and film from the National Archives illustrate how Americans from Benjamin Franklin to Jacqueline Kennedy and Henry Kissinger felt about Paris or how Paris felt about them. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. May 27-Sept. 5. Admission free. 202/501-5000 or archives.gov.

• National Building Museum: 401 F St. NW. “Washington: Symbol and City.” The L’Enfant plan and how the capital recommitted itself to L’Enfant’s vision with the McMillan Commission plan. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. 202/272-2448 or nbm.org.


• AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center: 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. “Maverick Classicist: Bertrand Tavernier.” A dozen films from this prize-winning director and writer from the post-new wave. Films in French with English subtitles, with some exceptions. Mr. Tavernier will appear in person for the Washington premiere of “Holy Lola” on April 18. April 1-18. Call for times and prices. 301/495-6700 or afi.com/silver.

• Embassy of France — La Maison Francaise: 4101 Reservoir Road NW. As part of the 13th annual Environmental Film Festival, La Maison Francaise screens two films by director Jean-Jacques Annaud, “L’ours” (“The Bear”) at 4 p.m. and “Deux freres” (“Two Brothers”) at 7 p.m., both March 20. Reception between films at 6 p.m. Films in French with English subtitles. Admission free, but reservations required. 202/944-6000 or la-maison-francaise.org.

• National Museum of Women in the Arts: 1250 New York Ave. NW. “The Cinema of Agnes Varda, Woman of the French New Wave.” Presented jointly with the Embassy of France, this is a major retrospective of the work of the only woman filmmaker of France’s historic nouvelle vague of the 1950s and ‘60s. All films in French with English subtitles. The filmmaker will appear in person for the screening of “Jacquot de Nantes” Feb. 18. Other films March 3, 6, 12 and 24. Call for times. $5-$6. 202/783-7370 or nmwa.org.


• Atlas Performing Arts Center: 1333 H St. NE. “Vive le Cabaret!” Three evenings of cabaret with a decidedly French flavor. Wine and cheese at 5:30 p.m., performance at 7 p.m. March 13, April 10, May 15. Series $50, individual performances $20. Call 202/399-7993 for tickets or see atlasarts.org.

• Imagination Stage: 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. “Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood.” The world premiere of a fun and festive musical comedy version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” in a Cajun setting that includes a dance through the New Orleans Mardi Gras., 10:30 a.m. Tuesday-Friday, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday, 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Feb. 5-April 3. $10-$15. 301/961-6060 or imaginationstage.org.

• The Shakespeare Theatre: 450 Seventh St. NW. “Lorenzaccio,” by Alfred de Musset. The first professional production of this classic French play in Washington. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Through March 6. 202/547-3230 or shakespearedc.org.


• Corcoran Gallery of Art: 500 17th St. NW. “Twilight Concert in the Salon Dore.” Concerts of 17th- and 18th-century music, played on original instruments, in the gilded room removed from the hotel de Clermont in Paris and given to the Corcoran in 1925. 6:30 p.m. March 13 and April 10. Members $50, public $60. 202/639-1700 or corcoran.org.

• Embassy of France — La Maison Francaise: 4101 Reservoir Rd. NW. “Contemporary Music by Berio, Boulez, Lachenmann and Jarrell.” Four French artists present music by the up-and-coming generation of important composers. 7:30 p.m. April 4, with pre-lecture 6:15 p.m. The concert will be followed by a wine reception. $15-$20. Reservations required: [email protected] or 202/944-6091. See la-maison-francaise.org.

• National Museum of Women in the Arts: 1250 New York Ave. NW. “Cabaret Songs with Claire-Lise.” The chanteuse, a favorite with French audiences who has recorded widely and won many French prizes, performs French cabaret songs, in a mix of humor and “poesie.” 7:30 p.m. March 3. $10-$15. Reservations required; please call 202/783-7370.


• Michel Richard Citronelle: 3000 M St. NW. One of Washington’s most celebrated French chefs gives three cooking classes — tributes to L’Enfant, Jefferson and the bistro dining tradition — at his restaurant. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. March 24, April 28, May 19. $125 per person. 202/625-2150 or citronelledc.co.

• Ritz-Carlton Hotel: 1150 22nd St. NW. “French Chefs/American Icons: The French Culinary Institute Comes to Washington.” The day-long program presented by the Smithsonian Associates features Jacques Pepin, Jacques Torres, Andre Soltner, and Alain Sailhac, the deans at New York’s French Culinary Institute (FCI). Includes demonstrations, lectures, tastings, lunch, and book signings. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 2. General admission $281, resident members $225. For tickets see residentassociates.org or call 202/357-3030.

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