"God is Awesome" tap-tap.
All kinds of commerce thrives in the Marché Fer.
The community of artists called Atis Rezistans (Artists of Resistance), still stands, and thrives amid the rubble of the Grand Rue, Port-au-Prince's old main commerical street, known officially as the Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Artists such as Andre Eugene, Jean Herard Celeur and Guyodo have been exhibited internationally, celebrated in film, and featured in the "Ghetto Bienniale" which is held in the neighborhood every two years more or less.
The artist Guyodo teaches and inspires a group of child-artists known as "Timoun Klere".
"Timoun Klere" artist Apali
Work by "Timoun Klere" artist Apali
In 2009, Mario Pierre-Louis painted the portrait on the left of the new American president.
Today Mario is four years older, a survivor of "Goudou-Goudou", and still making art.
I bought this sculpture from Wender Thelisma in 2009, and brought a photo to give him.
But the first thing I saw on the wall as I entered the community was this tribute: "RIP Wender T of Atis Rezistans". I asked what happened. "He got sick" was all I could find out.
Outside of Port-au-Prince, we visited the village of Croix des Bouquets, famous as the birthplace of the sculptures hammered out of recycled oil-drums, and now sold all over the world. We were hosted at the studio of the master sculptor, Serge Jolimeau, who I first visited 23 years ago.
One of my favorite artists in Croix des Bouquets is the fanciful and humorous Jacques Eugene, who uses a variety of found metal pieces in his sculpture.
Musicians by Jacques Eugene
Artists Jacques Eugene, Dorval Lidanes and visitor.
In Port-au-Prince we sought out another young artist working with recycled metals. Davidson Thermidor was a student of sculptor, painter and flag-maker Lionel St. Eloi.
In the southern city of Jacmel we visited papier maché artists such as Onel Bazelais, who were finishing off their masks for the beginning of Carnival the following week.
Carnival mask by Onel Bazelais
We also visited the beautiful mosaic murals and paving along the Jacmel shore - created after the earthquake by the kids of the Art Creation Foundation for Children, with Laurel True, Nancy Josephson and others.
We visited many of the artists who create "drapo vodou", or beaded and sequinned vodou flags - including Roudy Azor, Mireille Delice, Jean-Baptiste Jean Joseph, Maxon Scylla, Yves Telemac and Georges Valris.
Maxon Scylla in the studio of Georges Valris.
Georges Valris with drapo of Baron Samedi.
Our group was taken up into the mountains above Port-au-Prince to visit the original community of the Saint Soleil artists in Soisson la Montagne. First we visited the St. Soleil cemetery, which is decorated with murals by Prospere Pierre-Louis, Antilhomme, Tiga, and other St. Soleil artists. We visited the studios of artists Richard Nesly and Onel.
Painter Onel with drum.
My last visit in Haiti was to the house and studio of painter Gerard Fortuné. On a mountain road above the city of Petionville there is a short gap in the high walls which guard the the wealthy. There in the forest tucked between two walled estates is the small house of Gerard. It looked much the same as it had when I had last visited nineteen years ago, except his old house was gone, collapsed in the earthquake.
Gerard stood in front of a new house, built for him after the quake through American donations to the Artisan Grant Program and the Hand/Eye Fund. No longer the bare plywood box I'd seen in photos, it is now a handsome Haitian caille, painted in bright salmon and blue, with distinctly Gerard murals on the walls. Gerard is going strong at somewhere between 75 years and a century - he doesn't know when he was born.