Gallery Scene in Haiti

September 16, 2006
By Candice Russell

Since this is the start of the fall season, prices have been reduced on key items on my website to inaugurate this change. Now and in the coming weeks is the time to check the site regularly for new items, never be seen, for exceptionally good prices. This week look for new small Vodou flags, some real treasures by masters of the medium including Georges Valris, with wonderfully bargain prices at $25. Brick-and-mortar galleries sell similar flags for considerably more money. Collectors in the know, start clicking. It’s likely we won’t be able to keep these beauties in stock long.

The erratic gallery scene in Port-au-Prince, Haiti may not be able to nourish artists in the way it used to, even ten years ago. But that doesn’t mean that artists stop creating. The market for Vodou flags, those labor-intensive squares of cloth elaborately encrusted with sequins and beads, keep being made by those in the business a long time. What’s remarkable is that a large cottage industry in flags, with new creators popping up all the time, reflects the collectibility of these sacred textiles. There’s nothing else even remotely like them in the world, so no wonder they are prized by people living far from the Caribbean island.

The painting scene in Haiti is questionable. One wonders how many artists are supported by galleries in Haiti versus how many others are creating in a vacuum without the backing they so crucially need. Conditions in Haiti don’t make it favorable for tourists and collectors of adventurous mind to visit at the moment, exacerbating an already difficult situation. One can only hope that the vendors of good art — metal sculptures painted and unpainted, wood masks, Vodou bottles and Vodou flags strung between trees — are still prospering on the John Brown Road leading from Port-au-Prince to Petionville. One prays that dear Haiti and its creative geniuses are surviving and even thriving.