When I was a child, my mother, an artist, spirited me across the Caribbean; I’ve long appreciated that each island possesses a unique flavor, perhaps none more so than magical, mystical Haiti.
I’ll never forget one scene at the famed Grand Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince, whose restaurant once doubled as one of the world’s great cultural salons. A statuesque stunner strode gracefully to the bar then ordered a kir royale, her hand an inverted question mark about to take flight as she leaned in to accept a light. Yet despite her elegant carriage, her clothes draped in tatters. When I mentioned this with a tween’s typically parochial disdain, my mother gently chided, “Yes, dear, but she’s still wearing Dior.”
That image lingers as a metaphoric microcosm of Haiti: a country and people exhibiting style, substance, creativity, and sheer dramatic presence… despite enduring the worst acts of God – and man for countless decades.
Desperately impoverished yet culturally rich, Haiti has long boasted a vital vibrant art scene whose masters command prices in the six figures at auction, prized by such prominent collectors as film director Jonathan Demme.