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Haitian Visit A GREAT Success!

IMG_7206Last week, as you may know, It’s Cactus sponsored two Haitian artists, Cineus Louime and Wiseton Brutus, for a week of demonstrations at three events in the local Salinas area.  Read their biographies here: https://www.itscactus.com/the-artists/haiti.php

With all due modesty it was a great success!  There were many purposes to the visit, among them promoting the art and the artists who produce it.  In addition, we wanted to give these men the opportunity to see what happens to their art when it reaches this country, to help them understand how the art is organized, marketed and distributed, and also for them to meet the people who love and appreciate their work. Finally, we wanted them to have the opportunity to sell their own work and return home to share their financial and experiential rewards  with their families, their businesses, and their community,

To accomplish these goals, we first took them to the shop and to the warehouse.  At theIMG_7256 warehouse, they saw how their work is received, packaged, and distributed.  They noted the critical importance of maintaining high quality in their product and also the necessity for consistent levels of inventory to meet demand.  At the shop, they saw how their work is displayed, and how critical sharing knowledge and pleasing presentation is to the act of selling.  Cineus and Wiseton will use these insights and information to great advantage upon returning to their own workshops in Haiti.

From there, it was on to the markets! We participated in two local farmer’s markets in Monterey and a holiday bazaar, called “Flair on the Farm” outside Salinas.  In each case, the response was overwhelming.  All events were well attended and the artists were often surrounded with curious passersby who quickly became patrons of the art. To be completely honest, it didn’t hurt that producing metal sculpture creates a noticeable  racket. BANG, CLANG, CLANG, BANG! They would have been rather hard to miss. Nevertheless, their work was warmly and enthusiastically IMG_7396received, as evidenced by briskly turned transactions at the coffer. We are so pleased to report that at the end of those three sales events, Cineus and Wiseton earned over $3500 apiece.  In a country where the average daily wages is $2,  such a cash infusion will have a tremendous positive impact on their lives.   A huge and heartfelt “Thank you” to all who watched, visited, and shopped with us.  Your dollars make a difference!

Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus


The Haitians are coming!

Cineus Louime, with one of his beautiful tree of life designs.

Cineus Louime, with one of his beautiful tree of life designs.

After more than a year of trying, all of the stars have aligned and the arrival of Cineus Louime

and Wiseton Brutus from Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti is imminent.  They will be staying in Salinas and demonstrating their work at several locations in the area next week to include farmer’s markets in downtown Monterey (on Alvarado St. Nov. 18th 4-7pm and at Monterey Peninsula College (Nov. 21st 10am – 2pm),  as well as at “Flair at the Farm Holiday Boutique” on Old Stage Road south of Salinas. (At The Barn 10am – 5pm.)

Cineus Louime and Wiseton Brutus have both been involved in metal sculpture for most of their adult lives.  Each has his own shop in the village and each has been producing beautiful folk art pieces for it’s Cactus for over a dozen years.  (To see Cineus’ work, click here: https://www.itscactus.com/index.php?p=catalog&mode=search&search_artist=5 To see Wiseton’s work, click here:  https://www.itscactus.com/index.php?p=catalog&mode=search&search_artist=107  )

We are so pleased to bring them to California, to broaden their experience base, to inspire their art, and to give them the opportunity to meet the people who purchase their work.

If past experience is any indication, this visit will be an impactful one for all involved.  The

Brutus Wiseton, with his wife in the doorway of their home.

Brutus Wiseton, with his wife in the doorway of their home.

artists will be able to sell a great deal of their work in a short amount of time and bring the proceeds back to their homes and their community.   For our part, the value of working alongside them and sharing in their success in such a personal way is tremendous.  We hope that you will be able to support our efforts by attending one of these events.  We are CERTAIN you will have fun doing so!

Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

Back in Haiti

Casey, the indespensible Franz, and Jean Rony in Jean's workshop discussing new design ideas.

Casey, the indespensible Franz, and Jean Rony in Jean’s workshop discussing new design ideas.

Casey just got back from a week in Haiti.  It was an eventful trip!  As always, she was glad to see and have the opportunity to work with the artists again.  The creative juices continue to flow as they were able to hammer out (HA!  Pun intended.) and nail down (Oh stop!) many new designs to deliver in the coming months.

She was so delighted to observe many changes in Croix-des-Bouquet itself.  For nearly 20 years, she has been traipsing up and down the dirt roads of the village, going from workshop to workshop along the main drag.  But no longer – the road is paved.  And lined with streetlights! There is even a large sculptured metal statue signifying the major activity of Croix-des-Bouquet, that of course being recycled metal art.  Nice!  The Haitian government has undertaken these improvements to make life more safe, secure and maybe just a little bit easier.  Hopefully, it is the first of many steps the government will take toward uplifting the lives of its people.

Having observed huge containers filled with what appeared to be plastics of all kinds

A newly paved road, one of many improvements Casey observed on her latest visit.

A newly paved road, one of many improvements Casey observed on her latest visit.

being transported for recycling, Casey speculated that perhaps it was the recycling program SRS Haiti (about which I blogged in April) in action.  A terrific program in concept, it seems in action, it is making a palpable difference.

Beyond in Port-au-Prince, the large tent cities which arose after the 2010 earthquake have disappeared.  It was hard for her to say if more permanent housing had become available; in the papers and online there

A statue on the main street of Croix-des-Bouquets proclaiming by its presence that this is the birthplace of Haitian metal art.

A statue on the main street of Croix-des-Bouquets proclaiming by its presence that this is the birthplace of Haitian metal art.

have been stories of eviction notices and small amounts of cash being doled out to tide the tent city residents over.  Guess we’d all like to believe that the tent city nightmare is over.  Maybe all of the international goodwill and all of the funding flooding in from the four corners of the world is finally paying off.  Maybe bureaucratic inertia has been overcome.  Maybe a new day has dawned for the Haitian people and a new way of life has begun.


Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus

St. Francis

"St. Francis in the Garden" SM 561 by Edward Dieudonne

“St. Francis in the Garden” SM 561 by Edward Dieudonne


"St. Francis in Reflection" SM562 by Edward Dieudonne

“St. Francis in Reflection” SM562 by Edward Dieudonne


Twice a year – once in January and once in July – Beyond Borders selects about 2 dozen new designs from our artists to feature in the catalogue and online.  Last week was the “unveiling” and, as always, I was very excited to see which designs made the final cut.  Among many lovely pieces, my fast favorites became Edward Dieudonne’s images of St. Francis.  Edward captured the saint’s tender love for the creatures of the earth, depicting him standing reflectively among the flowers and birds. He rendered the sculptures with a beauty and simplicity that are completely appropriate and fitting for his subject.  Perfect!

Though I was aware that St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment, I never knew why. Fortunately, it takes very little research to discover the answer.  His designation is well-deserved and the story is a good one.  Several stories, actually, and from a noteworthy set of contemporary medieval sources. The life of Saint Francis of Assisi is, in fact, one of the more closely chronicled lives of the pre-Renaissance, with sources including a number of early papal bulls and three biographies; one written by Thomas of Celano, a follower of Francis’ (1229-1247), a joint narrative of his life compiled by Leo, Rufinus, and Angelus, who were intimate companions of the saint (1246), and the celebrated Legend of St. Bonaventure (1263).

These accounts were summarized neatly for me in several online sites, including www.newadvent.org where I read that, “The very animals found in Francis a tender friend and protector; thus we find him pleading with the people of Gubbio to feed the fierce wolf that had ravished their flocks, because through hunger “Brother Wolf” had done this wrong. And the early legends have left us many an idyllic picture of how beasts and birds alike susceptible to the charm of Francis’s gentle ways, entering into loving companionship with him.”

Perhaps the most famous story associated with St. Francis is the one told of his sermon to the birds.  Apparently, Francis had hit a something of a professional impasse.  He was uncertain whether to continue his ministry, or to withdraw from teaching and spend the rest of his life in solitary prayer and meditation.  His colleagues, Sister Clare and Brother Sylvester encouraged him to continue his outreach. Following their advice, he set out with renewed vigor and immediately encountered a large flock of birds. Francis stopped in his tracks and preached to the birds, instructing them to be thankful to God for their beautiful plumage, for their independence, and for God’s loving care.  The birds were rapt in their attention as he spoke, flying off only when he bid them leave.

Modern interpretations of these stories lead us to the conclusion that St. Francis revealed that the whole family of creation – flora, fauna, and the earth itself – is deserving of respect and care. It’s an idea, and an image that bears repeating.

Contributed by Linda for Beyond Borders/It’s Cactus

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