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Champion of Bahamian Culture and Artist Behind Green Turtle Sculpture Garden Passes Away

Bahamians lost a champion of their national history and culture with the passing of James Mastin (pictured right) in Miami, Florida on Sunday, July 24.

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

In 1976, Mastin assisted Lowe in establishing Green Turtle Cay’s Albert Lowe Museum, the first historical museum in the Bahamas. 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 Mastin completed a bronze bust of Alton Lowe’s father Albert, Lowe was so impressed that he envisioned a public sculpture garden commemorating the British Loyalists exiled to the Bahamas after the American Revolution. In 1987, Green Turtle Cay’s Memorial Sculpture Garden, which features a life-sized work by Mastin entitled The Landing, depicting the arrival of the Loyalists, and 24 bronze busts of descendants of the earliest settlers, was unveiled and declared a Bahamian national monument. Among the busts is Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor General of the Bahamas and a good friend of the artist.

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.

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. Works by him are also featured at Miami City Hall, the State Department in Washington, D.C. and the American Embassy in Nassau. Most recently, Mastin 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.

Mastin is survived by his wife Deborah, daughter Loren, sons Seth and Jonathan and four grandchildren: Samantha, Angela, Ashton, and Niko.

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