The Caribbean may be famous for white-sand beaches and the crystal-clear sea, but the Bahamas is giving travelers a new reason to visit.
The Current, the largest art collection to ever exist in the Bahamas, is on display throughout the new luxury resort Baha Mar, capturing the history, allure, and artistic flair of the island nation through 2,500 compelling pieces of varied works.
“We set out wanting to tell the most encompassing, dynamic, and reflective story possible,” says John Cox, Baha Mar’s art director and graduate of Rhode Island School of Design. As the former chief curator of The National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Cox selected art that holds a special place in Bahamas history or expresses a particular narrative through local artists. The unforgettable collection comprises the largest concentration of notable Bahamian artists, like Stanley Burnside, a local art hero; Maxwell Taylor, a master printmaker, painter, and ceramicist; and Kendall Hanna, the first major abstractionist in Bahamian art. The Current is also the largest collection of original Caribbean art anywhere in the world, and the single largest collection of Bahamian art ever exhibited.
"We want the collection to have an aesthetic appeal, with formal qualities and content speaking to the lush environment and compelling aspects of our culture, while not compromising on the realities of what The Bahamas is today," says Cox. "Drawing on my past experience and working closely with my curatorial team, Natascha Vasquez and Cydne Coleby, we dove deeply into the collection of Bahamian collector and cultural partner, Dawn Davies, whose loaned works comprise approximately 60 percent of the exhibition. Additionally, we looked for works from artists pushing emotive buttons, challenging conventions, and helping turn artistic corners."
The largest concentration of art can be browsed at The Fairwind Exhibition inside The Baha Mar Performing Arts and Convention Center, which houses 250 pieces representing over 150 years of Bahamas art. The curated collection also spans other spaces, including a gallery, studio space, public spaces, guest rooms, spa, restaurants, and more, throughout the $4.2 billion, 1,000-acre property. Baha Mar, opened in May 2018 in Nassau, features three resorts—Grand Hyatt, SLS Hotel, and Rosewood—with more than 40 restaurants, bars and lounges; a 17-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course; 100,000-square-foot casino; ESPA spa; seven pools and several boutique shops. Guests are encouraged to experience the art in exhibition programs, tours, workshops, and lectures.
Curated as a themed compilation of paintings, sculpture, and photography, the Fairwind Exhibition specifically celebrates local narratives, providing guests with native understanding of Bahamas culture, including themed walls like The Genius Wall, which pays tribute to one artist at a time, and The Intuitive Wall, highlighting prominent artists without formal art training.
“I am excited by the works of Giovanna Swaby—a mixed media and installation artist and recent graduate of Emily Carr University in Vancouver,” says Cox. “Swaby is known for her portraits of women made from floral patterned fabrics and a sewing machine. Kachelle Knowles, who is also a mixed media artist and graduate of Emily Carr University, created a large format collage portrait of the first Bahamian Prime Minister, Sir Lynden Pindling, using papers she embellished from hand-drawn patterns, including a hand-written excerpt from The Bahamas Constitution, detailing the fundamental rights of all citizens.”
Among the vast collection, visitors should not miss some standout, extraordinary pieces anchoring the exhibit, including April Bey’s mixed media tapestries, Lynn Parotti’s Slave House Series, and Brent Malone’s Junkanoo Mural, which is on loan to Baha Mar from the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.
Spotlight On: Frost Science, Miami
Before you jet off to the Bahamas, stop at the new, $305-million Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, located next to Perez Art Museum Miami. The immense, three-building complex spans five levels, with innovative exhibitions exploring space and animals. Don't miss the 500,0000-gallon aquarium and, the star attraction, a 250-seat domed planetarium. The ultra-high-def, 3D projection system makes the most out of the most advanced planetariums in the world.