“We’re celebrating our fifth year anniversary!” Haiti Cultural Exchange Director Regine Roumain proclaims as the six-week series –Selebrasyon! (Celebration!) gets ready to kick-off this weekend — 19 separate events showcasing Haitian arts.
“Saturday night, May 17, 7:00 p.m. at FiveMyles Gallery is our opening night,” Roumain anticipates. The Brooklyn neighborhood festivity features performances by local poet Michele Voltaire Marcelin and Brown Rice Family, the happeningest Brooklyn-based world roots band around, playing a mélange of jazz, afro-Caribbean, rock, hip-hop, and funk. The ticketed evening is destined for great fun. (www.haiticulturalx.org.)
Additionally, the artist Engels is exhibiting his sculpture installation outside of FiveMyles Gallery at 558 St. Johns Place near Franklin for the six-week festival’s duration, until June 30.
“We’re regrouping all our existing programs into this six-week festival of Haitian arts and culture,” Roumain amplifies.
Haiti Cultural Exchange has had consistently exemplar programming since its start. Monthly artist talks, hosting art exhibitions, two major Haitian film festivals, and outdoor music events are examples of the organizations varied cultural offerings. Previous grant funding enabled the implementation of projects at Bilingual P.S. 189 that included revamping their art room, creating a mural in the schoolyard and sponsoring artist teachers.
“We want to further highlight Haitian culture and enable a broader audience of New Yorkers to experience it in its many facets,” Roumain said. A book discussion paired with a performance, children folktale readings, a film, food tastings, poetry and spoken word, and a women’s music tribute are part of the six-week, 19-event series.
Two events in Queens are stretching HCX’s reach. The Konpa Forum, June 6, Friday, 6:00 p.m. to midnight will take place at Brasserie Creole, 22702 Linden Blvd., Jamaica, NY, with discussion on the history of konpa with musicians Fanfan Tibot of Tabou Combo, Edy Brisseaux, and Steve Desrosier followed by dancing.
At the Queens Museum, Salon d’Haïti on June 22, Sunday, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., will feature readings and discussion with Haitian writer Katia Ulysse (Drifting) and director of the PEN Haiti House of Literature writer Jean-Euphèle Milcé.
HCX’s newest pilot project as part of Selebrasyon! is the Open Studio Tours. Six artists are participating on four different weekends.
Even New Jersey gets into the action in another example of pushing HCX’s geographic boundaries. On June 8 at Affero Gallery, 73 Market St. in Newark when Sophia Domeville will be showing her work from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
“We’ve hosted exhibits before but this is our first foray into open studios. We hope this becomes part of our regular programming,” says Roumain.
A committee of community leaders, artists and cultural workers contributed input and help with programming. Writer Edwidge Danticat was one of the advisors. So too was journalist Joel Dreyfuss who will moderate the An’n Pale discussion with Boukman Eksperyans’ Mimerose “Manzè” Beaubrun on May 23, Friday, 6 to 11:00 p.m. at FiveMyles Gallery, 558 St. Johns Place (followed by a performance with Boukman Eksperyans).
Another innovation is the community-curated project; fifteen artists responded with proposals. Gracie Xavier captured the advisors’ imagination with her hands-on Istwa Djakout (The History of My Straw Satchel). To be held on June 14, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. at FiveMyles Gallery, artist Gracie Xavier will facilitate a free workshop utilizing found objects creating collages to help participants share stories of their voyage to the United States. The artist received the $1000 award to implement this workshop.
The No Passport Dance Party will wrap up the 19-event Selebrasyon! on Saturday, June 28, 9:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m., at DCTV, 87 Lafayette St./White St., New York with DJs Sabine Blaizin and Gardy Girault spinning Afrobeat and world sound fusion.
For the full 19-event Selebrasyon! schedule: www.haiticulturalx.org.