Baha Mar, the sprawling development that debuted in Nassau, Bahamas, last year, has brought a new level of luxury to the Caribbean. There are hotels, like the 1,800-room Grand Hyatt (rooms from $295) and the soon-to-open Rosewood (rooms from $725)—a stately colonial-style retreat with 185 rooms—as well as 13 restaurants (including an English pub and an upscale sushi spot), 11 pools, a golf course, and a 30,000-square-foot ESPA spa. And then there is the Current, an arts complex that hosts artist residencies, rotating shows, and workshops for guests, as well as a permanent exhibition—all under the guidance of prominent Bahamian artist John Cox, the center’s creative director.
“I see it as a cultural agency,” says Cox, who formerly served as chief curator for the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. Because the Current will have front-and-center access to well-heeled tourists, Cox plans to show off the Bahamas’ artistic heritage. “But we’ll also focus on how Bahamian artists are working today,” he adds, citing MacArthur Fellow Janine Antoni, whose sculptural and performance pieces explore feminist issues. Currently on display in “Fairwind,” the resort’s museum-style exhibition, is a digital drawing by 35-year-old mixed-media artist Lavar Munroe that explores the dynamics of Columbus’s discovery of the New World (which took place in the Bahamas).
At the Grand Hyatt’s Blue Note lounge hangs Shake, Swing, and Goombay, a highly saturated painting of a scene of Bahamian dancers by local artist Max Taylor, whose work was among the collections of the late Nat King Cole and Sir Harold Christie. Next door at the casino is London-based artist Lynn Parotti’s oil painting Reflections, which captures a scene of West Indian flamingos, the country’s national bird.
More than an exhibition space, however, the Current is a creative incubator. The residency program hosts local artists, working in a variety of disciplines, for several months at a time. Currently Theodore Elyett, a Bahamas-born gown designer who showed at London Fashion Week, is collaborating with local artists to create sculptures that will be on display at the resort. There are also workshops for the guests on everything from acrylic pouring to straw plaiting, a traditional craft. “It’s about creating a community that both guests and locals can be a part of,” says Cox. bahamar.com