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April 15, 1993|ANNE KLARNER

Politics, boat people, military coups. While these are widely considered a major part of Haitian life, art dealer Mae Heureuse Gabriel thinks it's about time Americans put those conceptions aside and considered the culture of the Caribbean nation 600 miles off the coast of Miami.

Gabriel is part of the conference "Haiti: Voices/Images/Reflections" sponsored by the intercollegiate department of black studies of the Claremont Colleges.

"There's another aspect (of Haiti) that's been lost in the mayhem," she said. "The conference is totally nonpolitical. It's a cultural event. Purely cultural."

Gabriel is the daughter of the late Jacques Gabriel, a contemporary Haitian artist whose work will be featured in the conference's art exhibition, which she is curating.

"The exhibition is a compilation of what I have in my gallery," she said, plus some paintings on loan from private collections.

Educating people about Haitian art is a big part of what Gabriel does.

"There is a struggle between the fine art and the street art," she said.

People often do not understand that mass-produced paintings sold on the streets to tourists are not of the same quality as those found in galleries like Gabriel's.

A painting is "bright and it's colorful and it's $200," she said. "It's an educational process . . . to differentiate" between that art and the unique pieces she sells for $1,000 and more.

The exhibition is at the POSA Gallery at Gibson Hall, Pomona College, from 1 to 6 p.m. through Tuesday. In addition, there are three days of talks starting at 10 a.m. Friday at Seaver House, Pomona College, 305 N. College Ave.

Gabriel will speak at 4 p.m Friday, and there will be a reception at the gallery at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The conference is free and open to the public. Information: (909) 621-8000, Ext. 3456 or 2835.

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