James Mastin: Champion of Bahamian Culture

Bahamians lost a true champion of their national history and culture with the passing of James (“Jim”) Mastin in Miami, Florida this past Sunday.

Champion of Bahamian Culture, James Mastin, has Passed Away

James “Jim” Mastin

Jim was a classically trained artist, sculptor, singer and actor whose decades-long relationship with the Bahamas resulted from a chance meeting with Bahamian artist Alton Lowe in Miami in 1975.

With their shared interests in art and history, the two became fast friends and remained so for more than four decades.

In 1976, Jim assisted Alton in establishing Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum. The following year, he sang with the late Kayla Lockhart Edwards and the Bahamas Police Band at Island Roots Heritage Festivals held in Green Turtle Cay and Key West, celebrating the common roots of these sister cities.

He also performed at the 1985 bicentennial celebration of the founding of Hope Town.

When Jim completed a bronze bust of Alton’s father Albert, Alton was so impressed that he immediately conceived of a public sculpture garden commemorating the British Loyalists exiled to the Bahamas after the American Revolution.

Champion of Bahamian Culture, James Mastin, Has Passed Away

Albert Lowe, Jim Mastin and the bronze bust of Lowe that Jim sculpted.

In 1987, Green Turtle Cay’s Memorial Sculpture Garden was unveiled and declared a Bahamian national monument. The garden features a life-sized centerpiece entitled The Landing, depicting the arrival of the Loyalists surrounded by 24 bronze busts of descendants of the earliest settlers, all created by Mastin. Among the busts is Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General of the Bahamas and a good friend of the artist.

Dame Marguerite Pindling With Champion of Bahamian Culture, James Mastin, Who Passed Away Recently

Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor-General of the Bahamas, with Jim Mastin and the model of her bust for the Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Garden.

For 28 consecutive years, Mastin organized and performed in music concerts in Green Turtle Cay and, occasionally, other Abaco settlements.

He assisted in arranging lectures and bringing in entertainers, and he participated for many years in annual art shows in Nassau. In 2005, he created a painting for a series of Bahamian stamps commemorating the Olympic Games.

Champion of Bahamian Culture, James Mastin, Has Passed Away

Jim Mastin and Joy Martone perform at a Christmas concert in Green Turtle Cay.

Mastin’s work The Wreckers, which honours the founders (including many Bahamians) of Key West, is displayed in that city’s Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden. His works are also featured at Miami City Hall, the State Department in Washington, D.C. and the American Embassy in Nassau.

Champion of Bahamian Culture, James Mastin, Has Passed Away

Tom Wardle, Jr. presents Jim Mastin and Alton Lowe  with congratulations from Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney at the opening of the Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Garden.

Most recently, Jim created a scale-model bronze sculpture of a Lucayan family which he hoped would become a national life-size monument in remembrance of the first people of the Bahamas.

I never had the chance to meet Jim in person, but his love for the cay is evident not just in the Memorial Sculpture Garden, but also at the Albert Lowe Museum, where he appears frequently in the “40 Years of Abaco Culture” photograph exhibit.

In speaking with a few members of the Abaco community in recent days, it’s clear that Jim will be greatly missed by those whose history and culture he embraced and supported. Our deepest condolences to his wife Deborah, daughter Loren, sons Seth and Jonathan, his grandkids Samantha, Angela, Ashton, and Niko, and all who knew and loved him.

James Mastin, creator of Green Turtle Cay's Memorial Sculpture Garden and champion of Bahamian culture has passed away

Green Turtle Cay’s Loyalist Memorial Sculpture Garden

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3 thoughts on “James Mastin: Champion of Bahamian Culture

  1. Jim was an amazing husband, father, friend and artist. I am so grateful that I have known him for so many years and to have had him. I will miss him with all my heart. He was always a free man with a free spirit. I feel his energy will be with us always and I look forward to seeing him in another dimension, time or life.

  2. I knew Jim when he was working in Hollywood, being an actor, painter, and a wonderful person. He was always kind and sensitive. We were good friends for many years, and I will never forget him. There was a whole group of us who were friends and met all the time. We used to sit in a bar and drink Vodka Tonics and had long conversations about everything.
    There was Jessy, Joe Fornal, Joe (the Irish) myself (the German), my dog Hector, a Korean, an American Negro…and some others. Wonderful times, then, and in retrospect. We are all on our way out of this life. Adios amigos. So long.

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