Since it was established 11 years ago, the annual Transforming Spaces art tour has sought to introduce locals to the country’s artists as well as galleries and art hubs around New Providence. A bus tour seemed the appropriate way to guide guests to each creative space, providing them with a solid overview of some of the island’s established galleries.
This year, the Transforming Spaces committee has altered the tour format to one art festival enthusiasts might recognize and appreciate. The 2016 tour (TS2016) will be modeled on Art Basel Miami Beach and centered in Downtown Nassau.
Themed “SWELL”, TS2016 is all about community and collaboration. New and unconventional spaces will be participating in the festival, which will feature pop-up events throughout the week of March 7, culminating with tours on Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13.
In addition to inviting the Towne Hotel, on George Street, and the Central Bank Gallery to participate, the tour will also offer guests the option of walking to each locale and spending as much time as they like viewing each space. Shuttles will stop at regular intervals to provide transportation to anyone who cannot or does not wish to walk to or from any of the six locations, which include the Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Gallery, D’Aguilar Art Foundation, Hillside House, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Popopstudios and the central venue, the Towne Hotel.
Central Bank Art Gallery
A newcomer to the Transforming Spaces itinerary, the Central Bank of The Bahamas will take part in TS2016. Featuring three of the bank’s spaces – the art gallery, Great House and Verandah House and works by approximately 20 artists, the Central Bank component will be curated by Jodi Minnis.
Carissa Rho’s solo exhibition, “Eat”, will be featured in the Great House. Rho is known for her miniature sculptures of various meals native to other countries. This seems particularly appropriate, given the Great House serves as the bank’s staff cafeteria. The main Central Bank Art Gallery will feature works by invited artists whose art responds to the broader themes of community and collaboration. In the Verandah House, works by participants who responded to the bank’s open call will be on view.
The bank’s exhibition spaces will be open to Transforming Spaces guests on Thursday night, Friday during the day and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m..
With several exhibition spaces, it is the bank’s hope that emerging artists will find TS2016 a safe and inclusive creative hub to exhibit their works
D’Aguilar Art Foundation
The Virginia Street gallery will be transforming its space with the fourth collaborative “Jammin’” exhibition (Jammin’ IV).
A concept developed by Stan Burnside and Jackson Burnside in 1985, “Jammin’” refers to the process of multiple Junkanooers collaborating on a single Junkanoo piece simultaneously. The Burnside brothers brought the concept into the artist’s studio, painting on a single canvas at the same time.
The result is a dense, colorful and abstract expressionism that hints at Junkanoo and festivals; though many hands and paintbrushes have been involved, the imagery has continuity, appearing as if there was just one artist involved.
In 1992, they invited John Beadle to join them and created the well-known Burnside-Beadle-Burnside brand. A year later, Brent Malone and Antonius Roberts joined the group for the second iteration of Jammin’.
And in 1996, Burnside-Beadle-Burnside works were exhibited at the summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia; this was Jammin’ III.
With the losses of Jackson Burnside and Brent Malone, Jammin’ IV will feature collaborative works by John Beadle, Stan Burnside and Antonius Roberts. The works will be unveiled at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation, first at a private collectors’ evening on Tuesday, March 8 and then as part of the Transforming Spaces tours on Saturday and Sunday.
In a multimedia show provocatively titled “Tourists Only”, Hillside House will be exploring the impact of the tourism industry on popular destinations. While on a trip to Jamaica, gallery owner and artist Antonius Roberts noted physical barriers around popular tourist destinations, impeding entry by most locals. This trend was not exclusive to Jamaica. Though a growing police presence in many tourist-centric locales in Nassau can undoubtedly be a beneficial thing, the questioning of locals who pass through these areas has resulted in some discomfort among Bahamians to travel to and through such places.
To respond to this, Roberts will present a series of photographs of iconic scenery that is partially distorted and/or blocked, presenting the viewer with a symbolic barrier.
Also participating will be Chantal Bethel, who will address the exclusivity of casinos in resorts through a series of “Pandora’s Boxes”. Though betting has been in existence for years among both locals and international visitors, and is now legalized, Bahamians and residents are still prohibited from gambling in casinos.
Literary and book artist Sonia Farmer is another familiar face who’ll be presenting her found poetry in handmade chapbooks. Farmer’s poetry, much of which was inspired by her experiences at unopened megaresort Baha Mar, explores the effect tourism has on local identity and societal structure.
Transforming Spaces guests are invited to the opening evening of “Tourists Only”, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10. The gallery will be open on the weekend as part of the TS2016 experience. Roberts looks forward to expanding the project beyond the Transforming Spaces week, and hopes to involve COB students in the conversation.
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas
Partnering with artist and Mega Mergers founder Candis Marshall, the National Art Gallery will transform its adjacent property into a dream catcher garden. The idea was Marshall’s. Working with at-risk young people through her non-profit, Mega Mergers, Marshall’s objective has been to teach business skills to disadvantaged teens and young adults. Through this work, she was made aware of a widespread feeling of hopelessness among her business students. During TS2016 and beyond, visitors can contemplate and enjoy an interactive garden of dream catchers elucidating the harsh realities many young people in the country face along with the real dreams of those people.
The NAGB will also be open to the public until 7 p.m. from March 10 to 12. All TS ticketholders are encouraged to view the Brent Malone retrospective free of charge.
Popop will be also carrying on its tradition of participating in Transforming Spaces. This year’s exhibition will be titled “Triple Double”. The name is a play on the common sports terminology in which a player accumulates a double-digit number total in three of five statistical categories.
Cox has created a set of six words. Each word is the title of six categories – such as personality, orientation, country, perspective, position and color. In each category, there is another set of six symbols, words or themes. To “play”, participants select one symbol from each of the six categories. For TS2016, Cox has invited artists to participate. Each artist is required to bring in a partner to play in pairs, and between them, they choose three words or symbols from the Triple Double matrix. Every pair will create a ‘visual poem’ from the six words or symbols. They then respond to their respective poems by creating a work or body of works reflecting some or all of the poem’s components.
TS2016 guests are invited to attend the Triple Double opening night on Wednesday, March 9 and revisit during the main TS2016 weekend tour.
Another new participating venue, The Towne Hotel will be the TS2016 main showcase space. It will be a riff off of the Aqua Hotel in Miami Beach, which, during Art Basel at Miami Beach, transforms its space by turning hotel rooms into artist booths.
For TS2016, the Towne Hotel will be curated by NAGB Chief Curator Holly Bynoe and artist Dede Brown, who will help to transform the downtown hotel’s top floor as well as the pool area and outdoor courtyard into galleries showcasing local artists. On view will be works by artists Blue Curry, Claudette Dean, the COB Pro Society, Yutavia George, Sue Katz, Jordanna Kelly, Edrin Symonette, Imogine Walkine and Drew Weech.
The Towne Hotel will feature a VIP reception on Friday, March 11, and on
Saturday, guests will be treated to an afternoon and evening party with live entertainment and refreshments.
“As one of the founding members and I’ve been involved since the inception I think the time has come for us to change,” said Transforming Spaces committee member Antonius Roberts.
He added: “For 10 years we’ve been taking people to art galleries and I think there is a swell that is happening in terms of the development of art in this country, and not just visual arts. So we figure it’s time to centralize it.”
Tickets for Transforming Spaces are now on sale and can be bought from the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, Bahama Handprints, Doongalik and Hillside House.
VIP tickets can be bought at $100 and regular admission tickets are being sold at $35 each. For more information, call the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas at 328-5800.