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Galerie Monnin

Touring Haiti's 1st Art Gallery
Haitian art and Switzerland might seem a strange match, but it's possible the world wouldn't know as much as it does about the celebrated paintings, sculptures, arts, and crafts from this star-crossed country without Freda and Roger Monnin, a Swiss couple that moved to Port-au-Prince in 1947.

The pair, art promoters by trade, had no previous ties to the country, but somehow saw opportunity in Haiti's art that others previously had not. They established Haiti's first art gallery, Galerie Monnin, in 1956, effectively organizing Haiti's art scene and drawing international attention and acclaim for the country's creative community.

The Galerie Monnin of today continues this tradition in Petion-Ville , the tony suburb of Port-au-Prince that has supplanted the downtown area as the commercial hub of activity in the capital city since the earthquake of 2010.

From my home away from home in Haiti, the Marriott Port-au-Prince, it was just a 30-minute drive in the early-morning traffic to Galerie Monnin.

Airy and expansive display areas downstairs showcasing bold, over-sized abstract works gave way to vibrantly colorful, expressive, and diverse art pieces of multiple types and styles upstairs, all of it absolutely mesmerizing.

Nearly every corner of the smaller second-story chambers were filled with art, all of it mesmerizing. The historical, the fanciful; the everyday, the supernatural; the spiritual – all the wonders (and warts) of Haiti beautifully expressed and displayed for the world to see, thanks to an adventurous couple from Switzerland.