By Noelle Khalila Nicolls
January 02, 2015
Noe DeWitt

When shopping for truly unique art in the Bahamas you definitely want to stray far from the tourist path: away from the hotels, and—sad to say—even from the straw markets. The one exception to that rule will likely be Baha Mar, the new billion-dollar luxury resort complex expected to open on Nassau in spring of 2015. The property's five international chain hotels are being decorated with outstanding local work—some of it curated from island collections and some specially commissioned—and is set to becoming the country's largest exhibition space for Bahamian art. If all goes according to plan, the resort will soon be the premier place to see and buy extraordinary Bahamian art. In the meantime, though, the best places to shop for art are still off the beaten track. 

Doongalik Studios

This Nassau gallery could just as easily be called a museum of Bahamian art, culture and heritage. Any Bahamian artist worth knowing or buying can either be found at Doongalik Studios or recommended through its owners and curators. Such is the reputation of this marvelously unpretentious art village, where you will find the outstanding work of Bahamian masters as well as up-and-comers; the works include paintings, ceramics, native wood carvings, shell and coconut art, and literary art.  

Java Coffee Shop

Your first visit to this Abaco shop will probably be to grab a morning cup of coffee, which you can pair with fresh-baked muffins and sweet pastries. When you discover how inviting this undercover Abaco art shop really is, though, you'll likely spend your second visit lounging on a couch in the homey sitting area, checking out the local paintings on display and the collection of handmade souvenirs. 

Mixed Media

Located at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas in Nassau, Mixed Media sells merchandise from all past and present exhibitions held at the gallery. You can choose works from any of the gallery’s outstanding catalogued collections; also available is a selection of handmade gifts, including shell-encrusted jewelry, ornamental ceramic pieces and hand-painted scarves. 

Wenshua Art Gallery Exuma

For many years, Exuma artists were bursting with creativity while starved of a dedicated space. They found salvation in Wendy Cartwright’s Wenshua Art Gallery (which takes its invented name from a biblical word for deliverance combined with the owner’s own name). The works at Wenshua run the gamut from abstract contemporary paintings to intuitive driftwood sculptures. Much of the work is exclusively found on the island. All of the artists represented here are native to Exuma or other islands in the Bahamas. 

Hillside House

This Nassau gallery and art studio is the domain of master wood carver and painter Antonius Roberts. The art at Hillside House comes from current exhibitions on rotation throughout the year. When you shop at Hillside House, you will do so in a space that intertwines art with history—on a compound that is a quiet sanctuary from the commotion of downtown Nassau. 

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