Puerto Rican Artists Take Center Stage at the Arts Exchange

Before ArtsWestchester moved into its current headquarters, the building was known as the Peoples National Bank & Trust Co., where White Plains residents gathered to transact business and safeguard their savings.

We cherish this bank’s bygone name because we feel the building belongs to the people of Westchester.  That’s what we had in mind when we purchased the building in 1998.  True to that purpose, ArtsWestchester strives to continue the personal exchanges that made this 1929 neoclassical revival structure a focal point on Mamaroneck Avenue for decades. Today, under the vaulted ceilings of our former bank’s lobby, people are exchanging ideas instead of money in our gallery, which is the first two floors of the building that we now call the Arts Exchange.

Dancers, Mott Haven, 1979 (Photo credit: David Gonzalez)

We are also upholding the tradition of the Arts Exchange by exhibiting works presented by members of the community.  Recently, we invited The Puerto Rican Community Through Arts and Culture to share their curatorial vision, taking center stage in a gallery exhibition on view through June 9.  The results are a refreshing collection of personal explorations of the extremes of Puerto Rican identity, from a tropical isle to one with inner-city struggles. This exhibition was organized by the nonprofit Comité Noviembre in partnership with the White Plains Puerto Rican Cultural Committee (WPPRCC) and the Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts (PRIDA). Thus, we are fostering a community forum where visitors can have unmediated conversations about Puerto Rican identity.

White Plains and our country are changing in terms of new populations, and it’s exciting to see many of our cultural institutions showcasing and giving platforms to emerging artists and underrepresented viewpoints. We’re finding that involving more of the community’s vision in the exhibition-planning process is creating a new vibrancy in our Arts Exchange building.

Stay tuned for the next exhibition in this series, when the photographers of local group The Ground Glass exhibit their works beginning on June 21.