Four years ago, Florcy Morriset launched Vivant Art Collection with a focus on showcasing Haitian art.
The Old City-based gallery now features art from Cuba, Haiti, Africa and the Middle East.
“It’s been an organic transition. I think when I first started the gallery I wanted to dispel this whole myth of Haiti being a poverty-stricken country. It quickly became a place to celebrate art from all over the world,” says Morriset.
The gallery at 60 North Second St. became known as a meeting destination for community organizations.
Making inroads with the community has held Morriset’s business in good stead.
“I think that community connection has given me the opportunity to survive this economic downturn. To survive in this time as an art gallery is a big deal,” says Morriset.
In order to survive in today’s economic climate, Morriset changed her business model. In addition to offering the gallery as a place to host fundraisers and receptions, Morriset now offers consulting services to artists.
She wants to help artists learn more about the business side of selling art.
“I really get the opportunity to empower artists and work with institutions that are trying to diversify their programming by doing more cultural programs,” Morrisett said.
When Morriset launched Vivant, she started out with a collection of 100 pieces of art. She has since expanded the collection to the point where she’s sold 1,000 pieces of artwork.
She’s added a new vibe to the mix by launching a new exhibit titled “Cuba Librè – A Toast to Cuba’s Artistic Freedom.”
The exhibit features an array of paintings Morrisett purchased during an October trip to Cuba. The artwork offers a canvas’ view into Cuba’s daily life and culture.
“What I find so special is even through their political strife … their art and their culture is so bold. Through all of the oppressions that they have had, they are still allowed to be artistic,” Morriset says of the Cuban artists.
“You see the influence of Africa. You see the influence of jazz. You see the influence of daily life. You see the influence of the people.”
Morriset is marking her fourth anniversary with a four-day celebration at Vivant.
“I’ve done a lot with women business owners, young professionals and musicians. These networks have really been the bones and structure of the gallery in terms of events,” she says.
“This is a way for me to say thank you to them and really honor some of the leaders and women business owners who have come before me. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Vivant’s Anniversary: 4 Years – 4 Days of Celebration” kicks off with a Lyrics and Cocktails mixer on November 16 from 5 to 9 p.m. The social mixer will be hosted by Elizabeth Wellington, fashion columnist, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Jenice Armstrong, columnist, Philadelphia Daily News.
A celebrity art auction will be held November 17 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Vivant. Sponsored by Philly 360, the signature art auction will benefit the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and Fresh Artists, a Philadelphia nonprofit.
The celebration continues with “Vivant Spotlights: Young Professionals” on November 18. This two-part affair serves to spotlight young professionals across Philadelphia. A luncheon will be held from noon to 2 p.m. and a networking event will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Guest speakers include E. Steven Collins, director of Urban Marketing and External Affairs for Radio One; Deirdre Childress, Film and Entertainment editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer; Sheinelle Jones, Fox 29 news personality and Bobbi Booker, lifestyles writer.
The celebration wraps up with the “Vivant Salutes: Women in Business” event on November 19 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. This year’s honorees include Kimberly S. Reed, Melinda Emerson, Cecil Rahman, Karen Robinson, Tracey Lynn, Karen Taylor Bass and Rosalyn McPherson.
For Morriset, 2011 has been a banner year. She was recognized by City Council as the Next Generation of Leadership, Rising Star and by the Philadelphia Tribune as one of the 10 People to Look Out for in 2011. She was also selected as a 2011 cultural ambassador for Philly 360.
“This year has been a culmination of all the work that I’ve been doing since I started the gallery,” Morriset said.