Smith & Benjamin’s ‘BAHAMIAN ART & CULTURE’ Sharing a Weekly Digest of Art & Cultural News from The Bahamas for 19 years • • • • CLICK HERE to see


Smith & Benjamin’s ‘BAHAMIAN ART & CULTURE’
Sharing a Weekly Digest of Art & Cultural News
from The Bahamas for 19 years

• • • •

CLICK HERE to see online version.

• • • •

Friday, March 8th, 2019
Issue No. 373
Happy International Women’s Day!

• • • •

Portrait of Bahamian Dekel Nesbitt (2018)
by Bahamian photographer Melissa Alcena.


Dear Reader,

We ve been doing it

Today is International Women’s Day. And what a time it is for women all over the world who are making hard and painful strides to be seen, have their voices heard, and to gain equality with men. So much so that 2018 was named “The Year of the Woman”. March 8th is set aside every year as a global day to celebrate the incalculable achievements of women, and a call to action for gender equality and this year’s theme is “Balance for Better”: seeking gender balance in the boardroom and elsewhere.).

In this week’s issue of Bahamian Art & Culture Newsletter, we recognize this day and we celebrate the work and accomplishments of a number of our talented and exceptional Bahamian women artists.


In 2008, the documentary film “Artists of The Bahamas” was released and celebrated throughout the country and was successfully screened in several international film festivals. Created by Emmy-award winning filmmakers, Karen Arthur and Thomas Neuwirth, “Artists of The Bahamas” featured eleven Bahamian visual artists credited with being those artists “whose talents contributed to the initial art movement in The Bahamas.” All eleven artists happened to be male—10 Bahamian, 1 British—despite the fact that arguably one of the most successful artists in the world during the 1990s–2000s was a Bahamian female.


Janine Antoni, still from "Touch" (2002), Video installation with sound

Born in Grand Bahama in 1964, Janine Antoni came to prominence in the 1990s and is considered one of the brightest stars in the international art world having pioneered work that elegantly grappled with issues of gender, identity and the body. Her work has been shown in countless solo exhibitions and major institutions internationally, garnered mountains of press from all the acclaimed art publications, been collected in the world’s most prestigious museums, and has won more distinguished international awards than all the men featured in the “Artists of The Bahamas” documentary — combined. Not taking anything away from the work of the male artists, but it is important to note the glaring exclusion of female artists from a film, even a female who had at the time accomplished so much more than most artists in the world. But it’s probably not a surprise in a country where the people have consistently and overwhelmingly voted against the equal rights of Bahamian women and where a number of government leaders openly laughed in the House of Assembly when one Member of Parliament joked about beating his girlfriend.

But hope springs eternal. Fast forward to today, where the ninth iteration of The Bahamas’ biannual National Art Exhibition is now on view in our national gallery. Of the 39 artists who submitted and were accepted to this important review of what’s happening in the world of Bahamian art, 29 of them are women – almost 75%. Also noteworthy, the majority of Bahamian art students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programmes abroad are female. And just a couple weeks ago, The Bahamas saw the election of the first female leader of a national political party who could possibly one day be The Bahamas’ first woman Prime Minister.

Although The Bahamas is considered a matriarchal society, and women plausibly run the majority of households, offices, and businesses in the country, as well as outnumber men enrolled at the University of The Bahamas and other local tertiary educational institutions, and although strong and talented women proudly represent The Bahamas internationally in the fields of sport, art, law, education, government, business, science, and technology — women are still not considered equal to men in The Bahamas.

What does it take? What will it take? Will these successes and gains by Bahamian women, in-country and out-, actually one day soon be reflected in the attitudes and mindset of the Bahamian people en masse?

Can a Bahamian woman one day be seen as justified and valuable as any Bahamian man? My answer — Yes she can.

But until such time and beyond, we shall celebrate International Women’s Day.

Dionne Benjamin-Smith
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher
Bahamian Art & Culture


art & cultural
events calendar




P E R F O R M A N C E :

A Season at Fiona’s Theatre presents:
‘Riddim n Tingum’ at the NAGB

• TONIGHT: Friday, March 8th | 8pm–11pm | At the NAGB

NAGB-Riddim Tingum r1 sq

A Season at Fiona’s Theatre at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas welcomes you to ‘Riddim n Tingum’ by Saucy Expressions, presenting a dynamic night of music, poetry, art, and food where individual vendors will be selling their wares at very affordable prices.

Food and product vendors Conch ‘n’ Tingz, GreenCity Organics by Xan-Xi Sweeting, The New Duff, Kowsher, Express Yourself, Springbok, Conchscious Crown and Afromation are bringing all of their goodies so bring your cash, grab your bites and tings, and join us in Fiona’s Theatre for a night of ‘sperrit’, freedom and energetic healing through art and communal gathering.

NAGB-Springbok WInes

Admission is free and open to the public. Parking will be available at St Francis Xavier Cathedral. The programme is appropriate for all ages and family friendly.

CLICK HERE to visit event page.
CLICK HERE to watch promo video.




J A Z Z / F E S T I V A L :

Eleuthera...All That Jazz Festival 2019

April 10–14, 2019 | Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera, The Bahamas


An amazing 5 days of some of the best jazz music anywhere! From April 10th–14th, 2019 on the beautiful family island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas, a mix of local Bahamian and international musicians will come together and perform music at venues around the island...usually with the turquoise sea and white sand as a back drop. The Festival aids The Haynes Library and scholarship fund in Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera. There is a strong educational element for the children of Eleuthera, many of whom have little or no music in the school curriculum. Tickets are on sale now.

Schedule of Events

• Wednesday April 10th: Jazz on the Other Side
3:30pm-7pm / $100 – All inclusive of food and drink
An amazing way to open the festival! This exclusive location, not normally open to the public, right on the beach, opposite Harbour Island. Boats will be running from the Government Dock every 15 minutes from 2:45pm–3:30pm and back from 6:30pm–7:15pm. Tickets available at: Buccaneer Gift Shop, Governor’s Harbour; Island Made Gift Shop, Gregory Town; The Princess Street Gallery, Harbour Island.

• Thursday April 11th: Jazz Vespers, St. Patrick’s Church
Governor’s Harbour: 5:15pm / 1648 French Leave: 7:30pm / $20 cover pp
Reservations: tel.1-242-332-3777/3778.

• Friday April 12th: Jammin’ at the Fish Fry
No entrance fee and open to the public.

• Saturday April 13th: Meet the Instrument
10am–12 pm
Educational event for local children at the Haynes Library. Visitors welcome.

• Saturday April 13th: Levy Concert, Leon Levy Preserve, Banks Rd.
Reception: 6:15pm / Concert 7:15pm / $80 advanced / $100 at the door
Tickets include food and drink at the reception.

• Sunday April 14th: TipTop Lunchtime Concert, Cotton Bay
$160 advanced / $175 at the door
Hosted by Mr and Mrs William Douglass, this beautiful private house was originally the home of Juan Tripp. Stunning views out to across the Atlantic and along the coast from its high vantage point. Tickets available for Saturday and Sunday at Buccaneer Gift Shop Governor's Harbour and Eventbrite. $220 for both concerts.

For more information:

CLICK HERE for full information at the Festival website.
CLICK HERE for updates at the Festival’s Facebook page.


art & culture stories
from the bahamas


A R T I S T / S P O T L I G H T:

Bahamian photographer’s stunning images
regularly selected for Vogue Italia


Bahamian photographer Melissa Alcena

Considered the top fashion magazine in the world, Vogue Italia boasts an acclaimed photography platform, called PhotoVogue, that is curated by the photo editors of Vogue Italia. Photographers from around the world showcase their talent with hopes of opportunities to take part in international exhibitions and initiatives and the chance of being represented by New York agency Art+Commerce, one of the most prestigious in the world.

Bahamian photographer Melissa Alcena has been a regular feature on this platform with 15 of her striking portrait photographs taking the “Best of PhotoVogue” spots and three having garnered the coveted spot of “Pic of the Day”. Melissa’s photos were also selected for “Pic of the Day” on L’uomo Vogue and was short-listed for an exclusive show organized by Vogue Italia.

Alcena-Deanna   Jazzy

© Photos by Melissa Alcena


© Photos by Melissa Alcena

Alcena-RBDF Ranger

© Photo by Melissa Alcena

Melissa Alcena is a portrait and documentary photographer born in 1988 in Nassau, Bahamas. She fell in love with photography because it’s the best way she knew how to express herself creatively while impacting others at the same time. She attended Lyford Cay International School and graduated from St. Andrew’s International School in 2006. In 2010, she enrolled at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and completed a two- year Applied Photography course in 2012. Alcena was invited to exhibit for her first solo show, “Some (re)Assembly Required” at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) in 2017 and in group shows at The Central Bank of The Bahamas for ‘The Bahamian Project’, ‘Diversions’ for The D’Aguilar Art Foundation and most recently for the NAGB’s Ninth National Exhibition ‘The Fruit and the Seed’ in 2018.

CLICK HERE to view Melissa’s PhotoVogue portfolio.
CLICK HERE to visit Melissa’s website.


© Photos by Melissa Alcena

Tavares Strachan

Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan.

Bahamian artist selected for 2019 Venice Biennale’s central exhibition

The list is out.

After months of anticipation, the Venice Biennale has released the names of the artists who will participate in its central show this year, “May You Live in Interesting Times,” which is being organized by Ralph Rugoff.

Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan (b. 1979, The Bahamas) is one of the 79 artists selected for the 2019 Venice Biennale, in addition to a handful of collaborators, and ranges from vets like Rosemarie Trockel, Julie Mehretu, Christian Marclay, and George Condo, to well-known emerging talents like Jon Rafman, Neïl Beloufa, Avery Singer, and Ed Atkins. More than one-third were born in the 1980s or later.

Tavares Strachan was born in 1979 in Nassau, The Bahamas. He currently lives and works in New York. After studying painting and liberal arts at both The College of The Bahamas in Nassau and at Brown University, he received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, where he studied Glass, and an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University. Recurring themes in Strachan’s work include invisibility, displacement (both physical and metaphorical), and the capacity of both persons and matter to withstand inhospitable environments. Strachan’s work emphasizes the migratory, cross-cultural nature of contemporary artistic production, and unsettles canonized histories and geographies.

The Venice Biennale has been for over 120 years one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world. Established in 1895, the Biennale has an attendance today of over 500,000 visitors at the Art Exhibition. The history of the La Biennale di Venezia dates back from 1895, when the first International Art Exhibition was organized. The 2019 exhibition runs in the Most Serene Republic from May 11th through November 24th, 2019.

CLICK HERE for Venice Biennale website.

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Production still from Art21's interview with Janine Antoni. © Art21, Inc. 2014.

Bahamian artist Janine Antoni: ‘My work is a form of healing’

Watch Janine Antoni turn everyday gestures into sculptures and performances.

For the past thirty years, artist Janine Antoni has been incorporating her body and daily activities into her work. Her oeuvre, which spans from sculpture to painting to performance, blurs the lines between life and art.

In a 2013 interview with Art21 as part of its “Extended Play” series, Antoni describes a longtime fascination with milagros, or miracles: small objects that are shaped to resemble body parts or organs and are used throughout Brazil, Spain, and Portugal as talismans to soothe physical ailments.

“If you have a problem with your foot, you would go and buy one of these and you’d take it to the church,” she says. “They hang them on the ceilings, so the entire ceiling is filled with body parts.”

To these charm-like body parts, Antoni applies her personal experiences, remembering, for example, that as a child, she was constantly reminded by an aunt to cross her legs like a lady. That memory later made it into a sculpture of two legs crossed at the knees. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article and video at Artnet.

Jordia Benjamin

Jordia Benjamin

Interview with a Bahamian art educator & museum professional

Jordia Benjamin:
Cultural Superstar & Opportunity-Opener

by Clare Murray

What does it take to change how people think and feel about the arts? Perhaps a little bit of time? A little bit of energy? Without a doubt, it takes a lot-a-bit of Jordia Benjamin, the Mirken Senior Coordinator of Programs and Audience Engagement at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine.

A Bahamian in childhood and Floridian/Saint Louis-ian/New Yorker/Mainer thereafter, Jordia has traveled the world with her passions for art, art history, art education, and art gathering. From all of the places she has been and worked, Jordia has gained awareness of what the arts mean to different people and what they could mean to others. That awareness motivates her every day more to support, challenge, and equip young adolescents and professionals to make the arts something accessible and meaningful for all.

In her own experience, although the arts were something she studied as an undergraduate and was exposed to through her family (her uncle and aunt are both professional artists and grand-aunt is an art collector), she knew little of the possibilities and opportunities of what the museum sector entailed. It wasn’t until her junior year at the University of South Florida, when her painting class took a field trip to the University’s Contemporary Museum—which, by the way, she nor a few of her classmates knew existed—that Jordia learned how empowering and uplifting simply feeling welcomed in a space dedicated to the arts could be. [...]

CLICK HERE to read full interview at Superstars of Culture.


Bahamian artist Keith Wisdom

Interview with a Bahamian artist in Ohio

Bahamian artist Keith Wisdom is inspired by Junkanoo and the ‘color that’s all around us’.

by Rosalie Murphy

Eye-catching is too weak a term for “Junkanoo Dreamscape.” The work, by Cuyahoga Falls-based artist Keith Wisdom, is acrylic and colored pencil on paper. Look closely and you’ll see much of the work is stippling, done with an acrylic fine-point pen, giving the work’s undulating lines a three-dimensional feel.

Keith is Bahamian. This work, he explains, is an abstraction of Junkanoo, a festival the country celebrates every Dec. 26 and Jan. 1 — two days that slaves had off under English colonial rule.

“Central to my art, I know, is color,” Keith says. “I really need people to understand that I’m from The Bahamas, and color is all around us… This festival called Junkanoo — I saw this and I heard this before I could walk, and it did something to me. I remember thinking, ‘wow, this is almost scary.’ I didn’t feel like, ‘oh, it’s going to affect me deeply.’ But it did.”

It affected him so deeply that he spent much of his life studying it. In 1985, Keith finished a doctorate from the University of Georgia. His dissertation was titled, “Bahamian Junkanoo: An Act in a Modern Social Drama.” [...]

CLICK HERE for full interview at The Devil Strip.


Bahamian musician Matthew Pinder

Bahamian musician premiers new song about heartbreak

by Kandice Eldon

Heatbreak is pure; it’s the pain of love – a reflection of love’s strength, and an affirmation of love’s ability not only to build us up, but also to tear us down. Bahamian musician Matthew Pinder captures the tender ache of heartbreak in the mesmerizingly bittersweet “Break My Heart and Let Me Go” featuring Molly Bush, an intimate and moving confessional.

Atwood Magazine premiered “Break My Heart And Let Me Go” (featuring Molly Bush), the sophomore single off Matthew Pinder’s upcoming debut album Give Me Some Time (out TBD). A singer/songwriter from The Bahamas, Pinder debuted with 2018’s stirring Too Young To Understand EP.

In reviewing his song “Golden Hour” earlier this month, Atwood Magazine praised Pinder for the delicate grace of his indie folk music. “‘Golden Hour’ is a touchingly sweet tribute to a loved one that floats through the air like leaves on the breeze; gentle, sweet, and utterly calming. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article and song at Atwood Magazine.

Screen shot 2019-03-08 at 12.49.06 PM

Bahamian artist & Art Director of The Current Gallery John Cox

Bahamas art
on the rise

The island nation’s artists want visitors to know that there’s more to the Caribbean than palm trees and placid waters. Rosewood Hotels sits down with John Cox and gets his take on Bahamian art.

by Jeryl Brunner

How does one define Bahamian art? For local mixed media artist John Cox, it celebrates the nation’s diversity and layered heritage. “If it was not so complex it would be easy for me to describe as one thing,” explains the former Chief Curator at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, now serving as Art Director of The Current Gallery & Art Center at the new Baha Mar Resort. “I would just say ‘It is bright and colorful.’”

That sums up what foreign gallerists thought of the Caribbean nation’s cultural contributions two decades ago, when Cox graduated from art school. Having left The Bahamas to study at Rhode Island School of Design, he discovered his home country’s art was viewed only through the lens of tourism: a one-dimensional experience with idealized landscapes. “That was the perception from the outside,” says Cox.

“Artists to watch? Giovanna Swaby, Kachelle Knowles and June Collie. Female artists have long been drastically underrepresented in the Bahamian arts community. “The pendulum has swung,””
— John Cox.

At that time, you could almost count the number of significant practicing artists, including Stanley Burnside, Brent Malone and Maxwell Taylor. The three expressed Bahamian life and heritage through abstract and mixed-media works that reflected on the annual Junkanoo festival, the islands’ Lucayan Indian and Afro-Caribbean roots. “These artists really laid the template down for people to build upon,” says Cox. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at Rosewood Hotels.


June Collie with her work “Fortress 2”.

Bahamian artist named one of 16 artists capturing Caribbean culture

by Alissa Jacques

It’s no secret that Caribbean culture influences the world, whether it’s music, food, or film. Visual art is no exception. Here’s an introduction to 16 of the most vibrant painting and mixed media work by Caribbean artists from countries including The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua, and Puerto Rico. Representing The Bahamas is illustrative artist June Collie.

June Collie (born 1986, Nassau, The Bahamas) is a multi-media artist renowned for her unapologetically sensual female figures. Collie finds bold colors and patterns in her work; pairing images of the body with landscape or textiles to create sumptuous compositions.

A graduate of The College of the Bahamas, Collie received her Associates Degree under the tutelage of John Cox and Sue Bennett Williams. In 2010, the artist exhibited her work for the first time in the Colour of Harmony at The College of The Bahamas, where she showed drawings of skeletons from a micro point of view. The human figure continues to be central to her art practice. [...]

[Biography source: The D’Aguilar Art Foundation]

CLICK HERE for full list at Shuga ‘n’ Spice.
CLICK HERE for June Collie’s Instagram.


Bahamian photographer Tiffany Smith

Bahamian photographer awarded En Foco Fellowship

En Foco is proud to announce the ten Fellowship winners of its 2019 Photography Fellowship Programme who were selected from a pool of 107 applicants. In addition to the $1,000 award, the Fellowship recipients will participate in the 2019 Fellowship Group Exhibition and will be featured in En Foco’s Spring/Summer issue of Nueva Luz in print and online editions. The Fellowship winners were selected on the excellence and quality of the work submitted. The Fellowship initiative not only affirms En Foco’s ongoing commitment to the financial support of artists of color, it also serves to inform exhibition organizers and curators of an existing pool of quality under-recognized artists.

One of the ten winners is Bahamian photographer Tiffany Smith, an interdisciplinary artist from the Caribbean diaspora who creates photographic portraits, site responsive installations, user engaged experiences, and assemblages focused on identity, representation, cultural ambiguity, and displacement. Smith received a BFA in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design and an MFA in Photo/Video from SVA. Her work has been exhibited at MassArt, St. John’s University, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The National Gallery of Jamaica, Photo NOLA in New Orleans among others. She has presented public art installations in Newark Penn Station through The Gateway Project and Marcus Garvey Park during Flux Art Fair.. Recent solo exhibitions include The Wassaic Project, Recess Assembly, and Montserrat College of Art. Smith is a 2018 recipient of NYFA Artist Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Work.

The exhibition opens on June 19th till August 16th at the Longwood Gallery @ Hostos located on 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10451. Phone: 718-518-6728.

CLICK HERE for more info at En Foco’s site.


Shakespeare in Paradise invites submissions for Short Tales 2019

Submission Deadlline: May 17, 2019

Are you a playwright? Do you want to get your work produced?

Send Shakespeare in Paradise (SIP) your short script for consideration. Last year’s Short Tales was the surprise hit of the festival. Ten plays by ten authors caught the audience’s imagination and did what what hoped for—inspired people to think about new ways of getting their ideas onstage.

So Shakespeare in Paradise is once again looking for new playwrights and new plays for Short Tales 2019, a series of new short plays to premiere at their eleventh festival.

Plays should be new, original works. Plays should be no longer than 8-12 minutes in length. If you're using standard playscript format, this will give a rough running time of a minute a page, which means that your scripts should be between 8-12 pages long.

Casts should involve no more than 3 actors. One-person plays are welcome. And of course, you can have more than 3 characters if you write a play in which actors play more than one role.

These are the elements that will make SIP look twice at your submission:

• Memorable characters in tough situations which change their lives forever;
• Actions that have consequences for those affected by them;
• Themes that have relevance for the 21st century Bahamas.

CLICK HERE to submit queries or to send scripts to SIP.

Screen shot 2019-03-08 at 1.36.27 PM

Volta New York 2018. Photo: David Willems.

Following cancellation of VOLTA NY Art Fair, displaced galleries to present work at pop-up fair

NAGB Executive Director and VOLTA Art Director Amanda Coulson: “We don’t want this to be a sad sob story but a story of community coming together”.

Members of New York’s art scene are coming together to help galleries that were set to participate in the 2019 edition of Volta, but were displaced when the Armory Show commandeered Pier 90 for its own exhibitors.

With the help of dealer David Zwirner, 1969 gallery director Quang Bao, collector Peter Hort, Volta, and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, galleries who had already shipped works and arranged travel to New York for Volta will be able to present work at Plan B, a pop-up fair that will be held from March 6 to March 9.

The event—which its organizers are calling an “exhibition born out of love”—will take place in Chelsea, at Zwirner’s Nineteenth Street location and at a commercial space at 534 West Thirty-First Street, which according to Artnet is being lent by an anonymous benefactor. Around thirty-something galleries will be able to exhibit works between both spaces. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at ArtForum.

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‘It’s a little liberating’: After cancellation of VOLTA, dealers optimistically sell their wares at Plan B

Screen shot 2019-03-08 at 1.29.12 PM

Plan B at 534 West 21st Street. (ANNIE ARMSTRONG/ARTNEWS)

by Annie Armstrong and Claire Selvin

This morning, in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, some 30 galleries previously slated to take part in Volta, the Armory Show’s sister fair that was canceled late last month, congregated for the opening of Plan B, an exhibition assembled by Quang Bao, the founder of New York’s 1969 Gallery; collector Peter Hort; and dealer David Zwirner. The show spans David Zwirner’s space at 525 West 19th Street and a commercial space at 534 West 21st Street, and the mood was jubilant, despite the last-minute shifts in planning.

Kim Light, a partner of the Los Angeles–based gallery E.C.Liná, which has a booth on West 21st Street, said that change of venue “felt kind of like when you’re traveling and you lose your suitcase—it’s a little liberating.” She added that she wished the Armory Show could’ve done more for the galleries who prepared to show at Volta, though overall, she seemed hopeful. “Thank goodness for the Horts,” she continued. “I actually think it’s the best case scenario—we’re here in Chelsea at David Zwirner!”

Still, some exhibitors lamented the unexpected costs associated with the change in venue. Espace A Vendre, of Nice, France, had already shipped its works when its dealers received the call notifying them that Volta had been canceled. What would they have done had Plan B not come through? “Probably bring it back home,” director Bertrand Baraubou said with a shrug. [...]

CLICK HERE for full article at ArtNews.




about us


Smith & Benjamin’s Bahamian Art & Culture eMagazine

Art & Culture were created to
uplift and inspire mankind.

Bahamian Art & Culture eMagazine is an email magazine concentrating on the art & culture of The Bahamas and the world around us. It is published once a week and is a service of Smith & Benjamin Art & Design, a design firm based in Nassau, The Bahamas offering graphic design, custom illustration, fine art, art marketing, art brokerage and publishing.

Dionne Benjamin-Smith, Editor-in-Chief & Publisher:
Stephanie Shivers, Account & Office Manager:

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