the current
The Baha Mar has a buzzing art program.

How The Bahamas’ Baha Mar Resort Became a Caribbean Art Destination

By: Alexander Britell - January 18, 2024

Just a short stroll from the lobby at the Baha Mar resort in Nassau is one of the nicest art galleries you’ll see in the Caribbean, called The Current.

Walk up another story and you’ll find a different one, this time a full-fledged art museum, Eccho.

It’s a rarity, to be sure, for a hotel in the Caribbean — or, for that matter, anywhere in the world, to have not one, but two world-class art spaces.  

But what’s truly unique at Baha Mar, though, isn’t that number. It’s the number 15. That’s the number of people working full time at The Current, the Baha Mar’s extraordinary in-house art program.

Eccho, which also hosts regular exhibitions and even art classes for guests, is one of two art galleies at the resort.

Far more than just an art gallery or even an art department, The Current, led by world-renowned Bahamian artist John Cox (the former chief curator of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas) is a living, breathing art movement within the hotel, curating exhibitions, fostering local art talent, programming art festivals and helping to show the world the impressive power of the country’s art scene. 

The Current has two physical spaces: The Current gallery, and Eccho, an art gallery and museum, featuring a stunning array of works by both up-and-coming Bahamian artists and some of the country’s most legendary names, from Antonius Roberts to Angelika Wallace-Whitfield to Roland Rose to Cox himself. It’s a breathtaking collection across an array of media, moods and movements. 

But the Current’s impact is far bigger. 

john ox
John Cox, Creative Arts Director at Baha Mar.

“The idea of The Current is that we facilitate all of the art and cultural offerings at the resort. So we’ve curated pretty much 95 percent of the artwork that you see on the property has been curated by us,” Cox tells Caribbean Journal. “We have a very large collection. The [resort] allows us to buy art for the collection. We also have a large consigned body of work, which is the works that you see in The Current, and they’re spread around the different properties. Most of the work that’s up here is consigned work, so it’s for sale. And then another big percentage of the work that we have is through a partnership with [top Bahamian collector] Dawn Davies.”

More broadly, The Current acts as a conduit for creative arts across the island, through partnerships with agencies in other disciplines, from music to theater to the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, often giving them space to enhance their programming — at no cost to them. 

the current

It has helped create a new keystone for art in The Bahamas, cultivating creativity, lifting up local artists and connecting the country’s creatives with the deeper global art ecosystem.   

Cox, who has been with Baha Mar since the before the resort’s inception, has helped expand the vision of The Current to new initiatives, including the new FUSE Art Fair, a Caribbean-focused Art Basel-style art festival that held its first edition last October. 

A bigger ambition, Cox says, is to help Baha Mar and The Bahamas become a new epicenter for the wider Caribbean art world. 

the current
You’ll find works from a who’s who of Bahamian art, including celebrated artist Antonius Roberts.

“That’s the goal, really,” he says. “The intentional, deliberate goal is that we can be a center for [art] trade in the region.”

For the day-to-day guests to the Baha Mar’s three resorts, The Current is a way to experience Bahamian art — and a portal for lasting education. That means a full slate of art classes available for guests, from acrylic to leaf printing to landscapes, and a growing number of exhibitions outside of the Current’s spaces, like Fairwind, a 150-year survey of art in The Bahamas dating back to the 19th century. 

the current

It’s an immersive, comprehensive journey into the art of the 700-island archipelago and, Cox hopes, a way for visitors to redefine their perception of the country. 

“I just want [guests] to realize that there is another layer to The Bahamas, outside of Sun, Sand and Sea,” he says. “I kind of feel like if we’re just more honest with this notion of who we are as Bahamians, the complexity, the humor, the irony, the s, the downs. I think people will add that to the margarita. I think margaritas are wonderful, but margaritas are everywhere.”

But hotels like this, with its groundbreaking approach to art and hospitality, are most certainly not everywhere. 

For more, visit the Baha Mar. 

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