JH Newsletter1
February 9, 1962 to October 9, 2018

Robert Laneau grew up in the northern part of Haiti near Cap-Haitien. Like many Haitian children he had multiple maternal influences during his youth. As a young man with limited economic and educational opportunities, he moved to the Dominican Republic looking for prosperity. He embraced the opportunity to add Spanish to his French and Kreyòl language abilities. Robert was successful in selling Haitian artwork in the small town of Sosúa along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. A proud father of Jean Ronel, Rose Bertha, and Robert Lee, he wanted to give his children the opportunity to move out of poverty and enjoy a better life.  

In 1997, during an unlikely encounter, Robert met his future wife, Charlotte. The first conversation Charlotte and Robert shared was one about art. She was gazing at a wall where Robert displayed art by various Haitian artists and he whispered to her, “Take your time and choose one that speaks to your heart.” Eight years later, Charlotte and Robert joined hands in marriage in a simple ceremony in Pétion-Ville, Haiti. After an arduous fight, Robert immigrated to the United States of America in 2006 and resided in Sacramento where he naturalized as a US Citizen in 2009.  

Like many immigrants, Robert’s transition to living in the United States was challenging. He was surprised by the number of homeless people wandering the streets of Sacramento. Robert loved to cook and he was often found sharing rice and beans with the people that he found rummaging through the garbage cans in the alleys of Midtown. He gained great popularity and often there would be a crowd with hungry bellies ringing bells in the morning. 

He started making refrigerator magnets after the 2011 Haiti earthquake in an effort to raise funds to help family and friends survive the daily challenges of life in Haiti. His confidence solidified, and Robert moved from selling magnets to Haitian artwork. He used acrylic on canvas to share images of Haitian life. He had a childish sense of humor, he was joyful when he made people smile, he spoke 4 languages with ease, he loved music and he wanted desperately to make Haiti a better place. His life tragically ended during a visit to Haiti in 2018, leaving his wife Charlotte to search for ways to share his gift of art with those that appreciate his style and increase an awareness of Haiti and the underserved in the USA. Joshua’s House is near and dear to both Robert and Charlotte, hence the reason to share Robert’s work in the JH homes. You can see two of his paintings below: