The Haitian Art Society is devoted to people crazy about Haitian art in all of its visual aspects, from paintings to ceremonial textiles known as Vodou flags. Haitian art lovers who live in South Florida have a special opportunity when the Haitian Art Society comes to Miami in the fall of 2006 for a series of events. With the details still to be worked out, the activities will include visits to avid collectors of Haitian art and a chance to meet with people from around the country who share this particular passion. For more information, visit the Haitian Art Society website — a link is provided on this haitianna.com website. It’s worth the modest annual fee to be part of its activities.
By Candice Russell
A new and permanent venue for Haitian art has been added to the museum scene. Congratulations to the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, newly opened earlier this month on August 6th. The $46 million structure has a significant Haitian art collection, which will be shown on a rotating basis in one 3,000 square foot gallery of the museum along with travelling exhibitions. Key to the Haitian art holdings is the donation of important paintings and other Haitian artworks by Davenport resident Dr. Walter Neiswanger, who travelled to Haiti, befriended artists and gallery owners, and followed his heart in buying works of greatness. Look for a major retrospective of Haitian-American artist Edouard Duval-Carrie to open at the Figge in early 2006. The Davenport was the first U.S. museum to buy and show the paintings of Duval-Carrie, probably the best-known Haitian expatriate artist alive and a major force on the international contemporary art scene.
By Candice Russell
Have you ever wondered how Haitian art fits into a home setting? Or how Haitians of all classes really live? The answers to both questions are answered visually in an exquisite, recently published coffee table book in an oversized, horizontal format. With minimal text in English and French, “Interieurs d’Haiti” by Roberto Stephenson and Marie-Louise Fouchard is a treat for the eyes. When a Haitian friend visited my home recently from Canada, she saw the book and immediately went to Libreri Mapou in Miami for two copies — one for herself and one as a housewarming gift for her sister in Brooklyn.
These lushly photographed homes are sometimes decorated with great Haitian art, including outstanding paintings by Saint Soleil masters Prospere Pierre Louis and Levoy Exil. One gets a sense of how Haitians of all classes live, perhaps most starkly in the juxtaposed images of a humble abode with clothing hung above the bed and walls decorated with newspaper and an all-white, tres modern home of sweeping architectural curves, a cold and monastic space suited for a person in need of calm. There are homes of artists pictured, too, in this remarkable book including the tasteful home of Philippe Dodard and his wife and the orange, shuttered living room with voodoo-inspired sculpture occupied by Mario Benjamin. Other artists with homes pictured are Barbara Prezeau (modern, comfortable) and Lionel Saint Eloi, who built his castle-like house in Port-au-Prince to resemble a tall drum. This is a book to savor for anyone appreciative of what goes on in Haiti, art-wise or otherwise.
– Candice Russell –