Best Haitian Cultural Center (2001)

Jakmel Art Gallery, Cultural Center, and Caribbean Backyard

Walking along Biscayne Boulevard in the Edgewater neighborhood, you may have noticed a smiling sun rising above a wooden fence. On the other side sits a Haitian culture garden. In one corner two large eyes look out from an altar to the sensual Ezili. Toward the center of the garden a larger-than-life cutout of a leader of the Haitian revolution towers above a mound dedicated to warriors. A poem calling for respect and justice for all is written on the wall in Kreyol beside a small wooden store. A pole that channels the vodou gods from the other world into the bodies of faithful dancers rises before a stage where on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights local musicians and poets perform. Inside the gallery, where proprietor Jude "Papaloko" Thegenus resides, hang ironworks, paintings, and photographs by local Haitian artists. The Caribbean Backyard is more evidence of the do-it-yourself culture that is sprouting everywhere across the neighborhoods of Miami.


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