NY Concierge-Musician’s Vibrant Art Boosts Haiti

Except for its location across from Carnegie Hall, the lobby of 200 West 57th Street seemingly has no reason to be filled with the sound of music early every morning. But the grand Rodin Studio Building, long ago converted into offices for medical and dental practices, law firms, talent agencies and production companies, employs as its concierge Yves Deshommes. Trained as a classical violinist, the Haitian-born Mr. Deshommes, 45, has worked there for 16 years, and the interval between 6:30 a.m., when his shift starts, and 7:30 a.m., when the first tenants and visitors trickle in, is a good time to practice.

“I’ll walk by and say, ‘How’s that Bach Partita going?’ ” said Dr. Jamie Koufman, who heads the Voice Institute of New York on the 12th floor.

Mr. Deshommes remains dedicated to his music; he serves as violinist-in-residence, men’s choir director, assistant director of the music department and cantor of the Creole French Gethsemane Seventh Day Adventist Church in Brooklyn. But since 2010, a passion at least equal to his violin playing, his family and his church has taken over. In the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Haiti three years ago, Mr. Deshommes has made himself a philanthropist, starting a foundation to support Leogane, the town near the capital, Port-au-Prince, which was at the quake’s epicenter. The foundation is called Haiti Bas-Citronniers Foundation, after the rural section of the Leogane area where he is focusing his efforts.

Using his knowledge of Haitian art, Mr. Deshommes has mounted several exhibitions in offices at his workplace, where paintings have been sold. Next month, from Feb. 7 through 10, he will show more paintings at the Harlem Fine Arts Show at Riverside Church.

“I grew up on the Rue Romain in Port-au-Prince, a block away from the Centre d’Art,” he said, referring to a museum and art school founded in 1944 to nourish Haitian art. “I went there all the time to look at the art. I spoke to many painters. I learned about it.”

Recently, standing in the conference room of Dr. Koufman’s office suite, surrounded by eight pieces he had selected for the Harlem show, Mr. Deshommes motioned to works like the Voodoo-symbol-laden “Testament,” by Roi David Annisey; “The Healer,” by Pierrot Clerissont, a modernist painter of Haitian subjects; a fishing scene by Nicolas Dreux, who incises his oils with a razor blade; and an intricate village wedding scene by Hector St. Jean.

Read more: NY Times




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