Alix Baptiste was born on April 29, 1964, on a small island in Haiti. Mr. Baptiste has come a long way since his early days of survival. Mr. Baptiste is now a household name for his beautiful paintings in Savannah, Georgia. Entering his twentieth year as an artist, he owns an art gallery in City Market. There you can watch him at work though the front of his art gallery
window's to see what's in store for his next project.
During Alix Baptiste's childhood he had little schooling do to the lack of the families financial state. Mr. Batiste says, " I could remember when I would go to the field's and picked mangoes and coconuts, then take them to the city to sell for food and what school supplies
I needed". When Alix Baptiste become older he became an advent sailor, sailing to partner islands trading and selling what he could to make ends meet (Rada, "Southern Living" pg.24-26).
At the age of 21, Mr. Baptiste wanted to make something better of his life. "I wanted to survive, I wanted to be something and make a better of life", stated Mr. Baptiste. In early 1984 Alix embarked on a trip that would change the course of his life forever. He spent fifteen days on the Atlantic Ocean without any friends or family, just people exactly like him, trying to find a better life. On their journey through the Atlantic, many others did not survive and died of hunger, thirst, and dehydration. As his sea voyage came to an end he had reached The Turks & Caicos islands, where he worked on a freighter, arranging passages in return for a deal to enter the ports of the United States (Rada, "Southern Living" pg.24-26). Alix's changes came a few years later when he afforded a deal including cash that would take him to the United States. The journey, Mr. Baptiste recalls, lasted about three to four days long hiding in the bottom of the cargo
ship. Eventually, Mr. Baptiste found himself in the ports of Miami.
With only a little cash to his name, Alix Baptiste secured a one-way ticket to Savannah, where he was told his father might live. "It was a chance I was going to have to take and I think it was the best decision of my life." After arriving in Savannah, Alix made contacts in hope of finding his father. After finding his estranged father who was re-married, a new life for Alix would begin.
Re-united with his father, Mr. Baptiste's stepmother took him to the local River Street Festival that is held every year. Mr. Baptiste stated "he and his stepmother were walking down River Street when he saw a local street vendor's painting and told his stepmother he could do that". Despite the lack of any form of art training, Alix's stepmother brought him fifty dollars worth of art supplies and the self-taught artist went to work painting canvases that would sell the for two-hundred and fifty dollar's per piece (Rada, "Southern Living" pg.24-26).
. The income and revenue produced from the paintings were invested into more supplies. Two weeks later, Alix produced ten more pieces that he took downtown to River Street and sold less than three hours.
At the age of twenty-four Alix realized his passion and love for painting. Painting began as a means for survival eventually leading Alix through a world of inspirations, passions, and love by expressing himself, and his country's artwork.
As Mr. Baptiste continued painting as a street vendor, one thing led to another. Alix received a phone call from an older man who had followed him and his artwork. The man began telling Mr. Baptiste that it would be a wise decision to move in-doors, but in a way he could advertise is artwork. The man stated that moving to City Market would be his best option. After taking that advice more than twenty years ago and becoming the first premiere artist in City Market, many pedestrians can still view Mr. Baptiste working on his next big project through the windows of 307 West St. Julian Street in the heart of City Market.
Over the years Alix Baptiste has accomplished many goals in his life as a person and as an artist. In 1986,Mr. Baptiste was named "Savannah's Most Popular Artist" and has been featured in Ebony and The Black Enterprise, both nationally recognized magazines (Rada, "Southern Living" pg. 24-26).
Alix Baptiste's artwork reflects a statement of his life in Haiti, a self-expression of his childhood memories of survival, the people, and landscapes of Haiti. The color selection that Mr. Baptiste uses are very bright and spontaneous colors that stands out to the human eye. The blends of color and the flow of the landscapes takes the imagination to a land of wonder, but still captivates a sense of the character's doing what they have to do to survive. Mr. Baptiste say's, "he paints images of the special moments and feelings that he experienced growing up in Haiti". The theme's he wanted to project in his paintings were the people working and living together as one and the beautiful landscapes Haiti has to offer.
Mr. Baptiste say's, " I began painting, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. It was the only way I could make money and survive."
After interviewing with Mr. Baptiste, he left me with this statement, "Painting is a gift from God and with this gift, and you are unstoppable". "Artwork is like a never ending book that capture's the feeling's of that artist through the past, present, and future. Man dies, but art lives on".
Through Mr. Baptiste's artwork, he has demonstrated to young and old people alike, that anything is truly possible your heart is in the right place. His artwork represents what he stands for. If you look deep into his painting you will find that everything has it's own unique shape or size. Each segment of the painting holds it's own posture or stance and none of the originals are the same.
One day I sat in with Mr. Baptiste to watch his technique and to see what was the driving force behind his artistic work. Acrylic paint is always his medium of choice. With a cool and collect body posture, Mr. Baptiste began painting. As I watched with amazement I saw how much painting and his people meant to him. Painting is more than just a hobby or a way to make a couple of extra dollars on the side. He incorporates everything that he has come across from childhood memories of the everyday hustle and bustle way of life. In my conclusion, I can truly say that painting comes from the heart. Every bush mark resembles or stands for something he loved or enjoyed doing. I believe that Mr. Baptiste's rags to riches story is one that we can relate to because somewhere down the line, those riches were not always there or expected.