“Tap-Tap: Celebrating the Art of Haiti” is currently on view at the Frost Art Museum located on the campus of Florida International University in Miami, Florida. This modest show, drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, features a papier-mache tap-tap, a colorful bus topped with fruits and vegetables and people riding on the back end, and wonderfully primitive paintings by the under-rated Wagler Vital, including one titled “Fishing Boats.” As written about by Tom Austin in Sunday’s Miami Herald newspaper, the exhibition also displays work by papier-mache master Lionel Simonis, painter Gerard Fortune, and Edouard Duval-Carrie, unarguably the best-known living Haitian expatriate artist.
A brochure accompanies the exhibition. It is free to all visitors, as is the show, which continues through September 5. For more information, telephone 305/348-2890 or visit the museum at 10975 Southwest 17th Street in Miami, Florida 33199.
Food for the Poor, a non-profit organization based in Coconut Creek, Florida with a big hand in Haiti’s post-earthquake recovery, mailed out this week a full-color, oversized brochure highlighting its achievements. It was refreshing to read what this charitable entity has accomplished so far — the building of 802 housing units, 45 water projects, 361 tractor-trailer loads of food and water distributed and 449 tractor-trailer loads of various other relief supplies delivered. But the work is far from done.
To learn more about Food for the Poor or to donate to its continuing efforts, telephone 954/427-2222. The mailing address is 6401 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek, Florida 33073.
While it is good to know that someone is doing something about providing substantial help in Haiti, rather than just promises of money, what rankles me is the absence of any entity willing or able to coordinate efforts to help the future of Haitian art and artists in Haiti, both living and deceased. Is anyone in the Haitian government coordinating an effort to preserve the paintings and other art objects damaged but still salvageable from the earthquake? What about the Biblically inspired murals at the Saint Trinity Episcopal Church in Port-au-Prince? Is there a register of artists who passed away during the tragedy and a list of who survived?
Maybe with all that needs to be done in Haiti, it is too soon to be asking these questions. But my curiosity remains keen to know the answers.
Libreri Mapou is the centerpiece and some may even say the heart of Little Haiti, a district in Miami, Florida where Haitians live, work, and do commerce on the streets selling clothing, fruits and plants just like they do in Port-au-Prince. In a story in the Miami Herald this week, the 20th anniversary of the exceptional bookstore Libreri Mapou was the focus. It has survived the current economic recession and remains the intellectual soul of a community, as well as a gathering place for artists and others who want a strong connection to Haiti.
In years past, Libreri Mapou had Haitian paintings and crafts for sale in an upstairs room. It was always the place to buy delicious cremas at Christmas. If you want color postcards from Haiti and books in French, Creole and English about Haiti including books about Haitian art, this is the place to visit.
One of the unexpected treasures I found there was an eye-poppingly gorgeous hard-cover interior/home design book called “Interieurs d’Haiti” by Roberto Stephenson and Marie-Louise Fouchard measuring nine inches by seventeen inches. Pictured inside in full color are the homes of Haitians, rich and less than middle class. Regardless of economic circumstances, the owners of these remarkable places have employed a similar aesthetic — an appreciation for bright colors, original paintings and other artwork, and a love of the eclectic.
So congratulations to owner Jean Mapou of Libreri Mapou for keeping the intellectual flame of Haiti alive in South Florida for those who live here and those visitors savvy enough to pay the store a visit. It is located at 5919 Northeast Second Ave. in Miami, Florida 33137. The telephone number is 305/757-9922.
A symbol of hope and freedom, a kite is a fitting symbol for Haiti’s rebirth in the aftermath of the cataclysmic earthquake in January that changed the island forever. On August 22 in various cities throughout the U.S., Haiti and the Bahamas, at exactly 4:53 p.m. (the time that the earthquake began on January 12), kites will be flown in New York, Massachusetts, Georgia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. in this country, plus other sites beyond its borders. Victims of this terrible tragedy will be honored and remembered.
Involving the participation of 200 children is the job of Plas Timoun, an organization created with the First Lady of Haiti and Haitian artist Philippe Dodard . It is dedicated to providing art education and art therapy to children affected by the earthquake.