Listen to Paula Selzer's interview on the SMU Meadows School of the Arts Podcast.
Adolphe Gouhenant tells the story of artist, revolutionary, and early North Texas resident Francois Ignace (Adolphe) Gouhenant (1804-1871). Gouhenant was selected by well-known Icarian communist Etienne Cabet to lead an advance guard from France to settle a utopian colony in North Texas. The community, beset by hardships, ultimately scapegoated Gouhenant, accused him of being a French agent, and expelled him. He then journeyed first to Fort Worth to teach the federal soldiers French and art, and next to Dallas, where he founded the town’s first arts establishment in the 1850s. Gouhenant set up shop as a daguerreotypist and photographed the town’s early residents. His Arts Saloon was the scene of many exhibitions and dances but ultimately became the high stake in a nasty battle among Dallas’s leading citizens, setting legal precedent for Texas homestead law.