December 6, 2007
The first two weekends of my annual in-home Haitian art sale have brought out loyal customers and friends who have collected the paintings of masters and unknowns with equal fervor. Thank you to all who have supported this wonderful aesthetic revolution over the years, including Dr. Donna Goldstein of Hollywood, Florida, a psychologist, global traveller, and specialist in cultural diversity issues. Also in attendance were documentary filmmaker Grace Barnes and Paula Harper, a University of Miami art professor and noted art critic. Each woman has superb taste in art and knows exactly what she wants to add to her personal collection.
George Bolge, director of the Boca Raton Museum of Art in Boca Raton, Florida, and his wife Marguerite purchased a cheerful painting of figures in kind of a Saint Soleil style by Lionel Elie, an artist I met several years ago outside the Oloffson Hotel in Port-au-Prince. I bought the painting directly from Elie, who says he sells his work through the Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York City.
Laurie Vaughn, an abstract expressionist painter from Plantation, Florida, and her boyfriend Derrick Smith, a Miami architect, spent several hours with other guests, drinking Haiti’s version of eggnog — the delicious alcoholic Christmas brew called “cremas” — and discussing the art scene. It’s now the week of Art Basel Miami Beach, the largest U.S. art fair, and Vaughn is going to participate in an adjunct space in the design district and, we hope, sell out all of her paintings.
Friends Margareth and Reynolds Rolles, who have a number of superior paintings by Raoul Gilles for sale during the show, also came over. Through their auspices, a number of Haitian artists who live in the U.S. visited as well including Guy Floury, Ernst Louis-Jacques, and H. Versaint, who is the son of famed stone sculptor Georges Laratte found in many Haitian art books. Versaint brought a small folder of photos of his own work, highly reminiscent of his father, in marble and stone. These strong figurative works referenced such favorite themes of his as maternity.
Speaking to Mr. Lange Rosner in Haiti, my cherished friend who buys artwork for me and ships it via Federal Express, I learned this week that my favorite gallery to buy from for the purposes of re-sale closed in the Delmas district of Port-au-Prince. The wonderful Pierre-Pierre Gallery is gone! What a shock, considering it was the visitor to Haiti’s mecca. Many are the times I can recall walking through the dusty piles of metal sculptures and wood figurines in the dusty upstairs space, accompanied by a very tall woman with a big smile who worked at the gallery. When I cringed away from a spider one time, she said spiders were good luck and laughed at my fright. Remarkable art of all kinds was found in the space, including Vodou flags and one of my favorite paintings by the late Saint Soleil master Dieuseul Paul, who forgot to sign it (friend Dr. Carlos Jara ran into the artist on the street months later, encouraged him to visit and got him to sign the canvas!).
Mr. Rosner is sending a package this week for arrival early next week, which is good news for visitors to the sale on December 15th and 16th, which is a benefit for the Children of Haiti Enhancement Foundation. I’ll have many new things just purchased in Haiti, including gorgeous Vodou flags of ceremonial import and metal sculptures, both painted and unpainted.
This coming weekend, December 8th and 9th from 12 noon to 6 p.m. on both days, the focus is on sales and appraisals. Each day at 4 p.m. visitors are invited to bring artwork or a photo and we’ll research in catalogs and my extensive library of Haitian art books what the value of the art is. This should be fun. It’s certainly something different I’ve never done before, though I have privately appraised personal collections. Maybe I’ll see you at the sale!