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#192: Haitian bus adds to fun at kids' museum (fwd)


Published Thursday, August 5, 1999, in the Miami Herald 
 Haitian bus adds to fun at kids' museum
JULIE LEVENTHAL Special to The Herald 

 Visitors to Young at Art Children's Museum in Davie are quickly
transformed into world travelers. Passports issued upon admission to the
Global Village exhibit allow children to write poetry in Japan, make
necklaces and pottery in Native America, view the Western Wall in
Israel, and explore the cultures of Mexico, Latin America, Africa,
 and the Caribbean. And now, visitors can board a Haitian tap-tap bus,
which derives its name from the tapping of passengers' feet used to
alert the driver when he should stop. The bold colors that decorate the
bus were meticulously painted last week by Inatace Alphonse, a native of
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, who has lived in the United States for 18 years.
 Alphonse is one of many artists who contribute to the creation of the
lifelike displays at the museum. Before he became an artist, Alphonse
attended technical school, where he learned how to be a shoemaker,
bricklayer and blacksmith.

 His future changed 

 At age 22, the course of his future changed when he met Fresnel
Hermantin, the owner of an art center in Port-au-Prince. After viewing
some paintings done by Alphonse, Hermantin saw much promise and invited
the young man to work under his guidance. Alphonse began to do
three-dimensional paintings, house decorating and metal sculptures.
Seven years later, his work was being promoted in France, Germany, and
the United States. Even the former president of Senegal, who made a
single trip to Haiti, purchased one of Alphonse's paintings.

 Paintings on display in Miami 

 Alphonse, who has seven children, lives in Miami, where his paintings
are displayed at the Haitian Art Factory. ``Haiti is rich in artistic
culture,'' he said. He recalls the ceremonies, carnivals and
celebrations that define the Caribbean lifestyle his paintings reflect
and is gratified that children will now be exposed to that lifestyle at
the museum. ``The kids are really receptive to learning, and they have a
great time,'' said Mindy Shrago, executive director of Young at Art.
``They are seeing how many lives art touches.'' The tap-tap bus is
ornate with Haitian metal sculptures, which children will be
 able to duplicate out of paper as part of the exhibit. Alphonse says
the vivacious colors on the bus reflect the colors that fill the
countryside of his birth land. Behind the bus on a wall is a mural
painted by Alphonse that depicts residents of Haiti. The Young at Art
Children's Museum is at 11584 State Road 84 in Davie, at
 Hiatus Road and State Road 84. Museum admission is $4 and free for kids
under age 2. For more information on the Global Village, call 424-0085.