Monday, January 6, 2014

French accent in new Tannery Series program at PEM

New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik will talk all
things French at the Peabody Essex Museum,
thanks to the Port-based Tannery Series. 
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe
Now this sounds like fun, even for traumatized ALM students who have never gotten further than “Dis donc, où est la bibliothèque?” The answer to which, as many recall, maybe, is “C’est tout droit. Tu y vas tout de suite?” Even if they no longer know what that means.

But what is important here is that in “La Vie Bohème: Adam Gopnik on French Life, Light and Love,” a reading and conversation with Adam Gopnik at the Peabody Essex Museum, the sights, the sounds of France will be in the air in Salem, as the PEM kicks off its new Impressionism exhibit with an evening of French café culture. You’ll also be able to listen to French singer-songwriter Marine Futin.  Based in Brooklyn, New York, Futin takes her colored groove from the energy of the City, fusing jazz and blues with folk influences. Also check out an absinthe demonstration and sample pastries in the fashion of the best of France. Participate in an art-making event by sketching models dressed for the bohemian life from local vintage shop Modern Millie. The program, the latest in the Port-based Tannery Series, runs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Jan. 16.

Gopnik, the New Yorker writer and author of “Paris to the Moon,” will discuss beauty and leisure, bohemia and art. The reading and conversation will explore how Impressionism has shaped our ideas about love, light, freedom and leisure. The program plays against a backdrop of “Impressionists on the Water,” an exhibit with more than 90 paintings, prints, models and photographs, which tells the story of how living near France’s waterways and oceans influenced one of the world’s most enduring artistic movements. The sparkle and play of light on water proved irresistible to key Impressionists. Rippling seas, dancing reflections and sailboats propelled by strong winds animate the art of Manet, Monet, Renoir, Caillebotte, Pissarro, Sisley, Seurat, Signac … you get the idea. The exhibit runs through Feb. 17.

From Brillat-Savarin to Camus, Gopnik has translated the glamor, beauty and profound achievement of French artistic life for a new generation. He has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986 — fiction, humor pieces, book reviews, profiles, reporting pieces and more than a hundred stories for “The Talk of the Town” and “Comment.”  Gopnik has won the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism three times, and also the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. In March of 2013, Gopnik was awarded the French medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. Two months later, he received an honoris causa from his alma matter, McGill University in Montreal. He is an active lecturer, and delivered the Canadian Broadcasting Corporations Massey Lectures in 2011. Gopnik lives in New York.

The program is the latest in the PEM’s Tannery Series, which was founded in 2010 by Newburyport-based writers Dawne Shand and Kirun Kapur, bringing authors to the North Shore whose writing confronts the world in essential and curious ways. Running such memorable events as “Love, Lust and Loathing” and “Are You Cool?”— often for standing-room-only audiences — the series is known for presenting serious literature in a manner that makes it fresh, accessible and fun.

The event is free for PEM members and Salem residents, or $10 at the door if you’re not.  For more information, call 866‐745‐1876 or visit

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