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