As I was taking a stroll through Harlem on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I stumbled upon an art gallery. I remember thinking that I’ve walked this intersection of Harlem many times and have never noticed it. I stopped to admire the artwork when I noticed a figure inside the gallery waving at me from a distance. Naturally, I waved back, then heard the sound of a buzzer, which led me to open the door. A blank wall featured the words: OUSMANE GUEYE “Le Retour”(meaning: The Comeback). I walked past various statues of all shapes and sizes all in the appearance of women, all the way back to greet the figure that waved at me from afar. The fabulous Harlemite, Paula Coleman, Director of Renaissance Fine Art Gallery, walked from the back office to say hello. Her friendly demeanor immediately encouraged me to explore the art and led me to ask her more about her work and her thoughts on Harlem.
Before becoming the director of Renaissance Fine Art, Ms. Coleman co-owned P.C.O.G. gallery in Harlem with Ousmane Gueye, RFA’s current artist on exhibit and world-renowned sculptor for six years. I’ve learned that Ousmane Gueye was born in Dakar, Senegal, and studied art in Paris. His work with marble, ebony wood, alabaster, and other stones has made a positive impression on many, which led to exhibits in galleries throughout the world, including Europe, Japan, and Africa. Mr. Gueye worked in his outdoor studio in Harlem for 13 years before he moved back to France in 2007 where he is now residing with his family.
After I learned about the artist, Paula and I spoke about the wonderful art community she’s part of in Harlem, where she shops (because she looks amazing), and other random things I could think of. Paula mentioned Bebe Noir, a boutique on Frederick Douglas, owned by creative and young people of African descent (like me as she puts it). I’m definitely intrigued to check it out, and I’m even more excited to find more galleries and meet interesting other interesting people like Paula in the Harlem art and fashion community. The funny thing is right after I left the gallery, I noticed another one right next door to it. For someone who claims to be observant, how could I have missed them?!
I’m working on some “Paola Harlem Day Guides” posts, and this gallery will definitely be part of the activities. Stay tuned for more Harlem posts!