Monthly Archives: February 2010


Perhaps you were one of the fortunate museum visitors to the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Florida or other U.S. venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to see the wonderful hand-made quilts of Gee’s Bend. Fashioned by a group of African-American women in a remote area of Alabama, these bed covers bespoke of their makers’ innate sense of superior color, design and technique. Prized by collectors and justly lionized by art critics, the quilts are part of the women’s heritage.

Now their artistry is being put toward a generous effort to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. On Saturday, March 13th, some of these quilts will be auctioned off at the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in Miami, Florida’s design district at 3530 North Miami Avenue. Festivities get underway at 7 p.m. and the auction begins at 8:30 p.m. Thank you to acclaimed quilters Mary Lee Bendolph, Loretta P. Bennett and Gunnie Pettway for donating these prized fabrics, which range in price from $15,000 to $20,000. They are also making a special quilt for the occasion. Let’s hope some high rollers and representatives from corporations with an eye toward helping Haiti are among the bidders that night. All funds will be donated to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. (For more information, telephone 305/573-2700 or visit the website

Angela Charlton of the Associated Press, with an article datelined Paris, France, wrote in the Miami Herald this week about an official who worries that bulldozers in Haiti are endangering its art and architectural heritage. “There is a temptation to demolish everything,” says Daniel Elie, director of Haiti’s governmental Institute for the Preservation of National Heritage. “When the bulldozers come, it’s fatal.”

United Nations officials believe that preserving the country’s churches, artwork and mementoes from its slave result, which ended with the establishment of the world’s first independent black republic, are essential for the nation. Cathedrals and other buildings dating back to the 17th century are barely standing or reduced to rubble. One cannot help but wonder if the re-building effort will include attempts to duplicate these buildings or start from scratch with other designs.

Elie’s agency is compiling lists of buildings that should be protected to send around to other government agencies, journalist Charlton writes. She continues: “Elie is joining Haiti’s culture and communications minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue and UNESCO officials for talks this week to determine the most urgent needs for restoring damaged historical and cultural sites.”

Only time will tell how much of Haiti’s precious paintings, sculptures, Vodou flags, artifacts and buildings still exist and how many others can be saved, repaired and rebuilt. And will the world continue to pay attention to Haiti and its remarkable people? This is a country that deserves global attention for decades to come.

–Candice Russell

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Mourning and Helping

While other news outlets have moved on to other stories, let’s give credit to the Miami Herald newspaper and CNN-TV for keeping Haiti in mind. A beautiful story written by Jacqueline Charles in the Herald details the cancellation of Carnival in Haiti, the first time that has ever happened in anyone’s memory. She also wrote about the three days of mourning for the 212,000 victims who died in that terrible event and its aftermath.

In a sidebar, Charles wrote about Carnival photos taken by renowned photographer Daniel Kedar that are being sold at Chelsea Galleria in Miami, Florida from now until April. They include images that range in price from $300 to $4,500 and range in size from fifteen inches by nineteen inches to forty inches by sixty inches. To learn more, telephone the gallery at 305/576-2950.

Sean Penn, the Oscar-winning actor, just returned from Haiti. He called it “an apocalypse, worse than anyone had ever seen before.” He is working with Partners in Health to forestall what he sees as a disaster in the public health realm once the rainy season begins in late March. Pray for Haiti and support Haitian artists by buying their works where ever you find them.

–Candice Russell

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Suffering, Loss and Survival

A friend in Arizona sent me a copy of a recent Wall Street Journal article titled “Art Trove Is Among Nation’s Losses” by Pooja Bratia. It’s about the decimation of the mansion and museum owned by Georges Nader Senior, one of the country’s first and most famous gallery owners. What the January 12th earthquake claimed from him was a visual history of 12,000 artworks lost in the 35-room home. Son Georges Nader Junior estimates the collection was worth between $30 and $100 million. Gone for good are irreplaceable works by Haitian masters including Hector Hyppolite, Philome Obin and Wilson Bigaud.

The same article speaks of the ruined murals in the Episcopal Holy Trinity Cathedral by several well-known painters and the questionable future of the Haitian art scene, in light of widespread devastation. What kind of art can come out of such tragedy? If it happens to be art expressing pain, in direct contrast to most of Haitian art, will this art find buyers used to associating Haitian art with joy?

We now know for sure that Saint Soleil painter Levoy Exil and Vodou flag master Jean Baptiste Jean Joseph are alive. So is my good friend Mr. Lange Rosner, whose brick house in Croix-des-Missions withstood the earthquake. Mr. Rosner telephoned me today, which was a blessing because numerous phone calls to his line in Haiti produced no result. “I was in the street when it happened,” Mr. Rosner told me. “I went home and found my family was okay. I was very, very happy. Then I cried. It was a big emotion for me.”

Even now, says Mr. Rosner, there are “a lot of people dead. You find them everywhere. Port-au-Prince is finished.” While he has a home to live in, he is living in the street like perhaps millions of others for fear of another earthquake or a crippling aftershock. Food and water are scarce and hard to come by. And traffic is difficult.

The church-going Mr. Rosner is the favorite person in his neighborhood, as he gives gifts to the children who live near him. He is a driver by profession, now with nothing to do but try to survive. He has a beautiful wife, several young children, and a niece and nephew to raise. I want to help him and will send him money via Western Union on Tuesday. Should you want to do the same and have your money go directly to a very good human being in trouble, rather than to the administrative costs and overhead to a large non-profit organization, his telephone number is 011-509-3757-0306. If anyone knows of a way to legally get Mr. Rosner out of Haiti for good, and then his family to follow, please let me know. Thank you.

–Candice Russell