PAINTERS OF AJAPCA
Chiens de la ville by A. Fleurimonde
Maison Coloniale by Jimmy
Les Passants et les Morts by Equincy Joseph
Recolte du Coton by Kernezie Justin
Village des Fruits by P. Jimmy
Haiti Nan Route by Jean Jacques
L'amour by Jean Jacques
Lakay Blan by Alexis P.
Lakay Rose by Cavenard
Village aux Champs des Cannes by Cavenard
Barye Lekol by Gary
Loupgarou au Table by Kevens Prevaris
Namn Nan Bwa by Destine Alex
La Belle Vie a la Plage by Magloire
Bateau Par Nuit by Delis E.
Devant la Plaine by A. Estevenson
Kontré Nan Kalfou by A. Estevenson
Nan Morne Yo by A. Estevenson
from Soul in a Bottle by Madison Smartt Bell
The arts and crafts cooperative called AJAPCA had a gallery in central Cap Haïtien, but the whole operation was withering for the lack of a clientele. The gallery had been bright and hopeful when I first came there in the summer of 1996, but the following winter the same paintings were still hanging there, now coated with a layer of dust. The Stateside galleries were interested in history paintings, which many Cap Haïtien painters did excellently well, so I had come prepared to give AJAPCA a modest shot in the arm.
Présumé and I had both been spreading télédiol and were planning to attend a previously scheduled meeting at the gallery, late on Wednesday afternoon. Présumé, who had to ride a bicycle several miles from Haut du Cap, wasn't there when I arrived, and I myself was a little late. When I walked in there were about thirty men assembled around a long table, but the meeting hadn't really started yet-- they all seemed to be waiting for something. It developed that what they were waiting for was me.
The unexpectedness of that set me back a pace, but I tightened up my red mouchwa têt and began what turned into a sort of discourse in French, trying to explain my notion, peppering my remarks with what Kreyol I could muster. I ran on for half an hour so before Présumé finally arrived (to inform me among other things that most of the people present understood very little French).
In the end I took a few canvasses at derisory prices, with the promise to send more money if I could sell them in the States. For this I had to run back to the hotel to exfiltrate a few bills from one of my several stashes of cash. The interior of the Hotel Internationale was one of those bewildering Haitian spaces, with the private family dwelling twined around the public hotel areas like a vine around a tree. On the wall of a light well at the center of the building, inscribed in white paint, in close square block capitals with next to no space to demarcate the words, was the entire 37th Psalm in French:
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be though envious against the workers of iniquity.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shalt give thee the desires of thine heart....
Below, in rather larger lettering, appeared this motto: NE FAIS PAS DU BIEN SI TU NE PEUX PAS SUPPORTER AVEC COURAGE L'INGRATITUDE DES HOMMES. I digested the warning, then went on about my business, returning to AJAPCA with a few U.S. twenties stuck in my shirt pocket. With decent luck, si Dye vlé, maybe a few more people would be helped at least a little.