The Bank & Trust Show

Some people have obsessions about money.  I have an obsession about old  buildings,  especially banks.  I love the history, the architecture and the especially the  stories,, some inspirational – about inheritance, building a dream home, starting a business; others challenging – about hardship and debt.  The  Chase Manhattan Bank in Far Rockaway where I grew up was impressive. Outside the granite was formidable, even awesome.  It was the grandest building on the block.  Inside, marble and mahogany were everywhere.  The suited bank officers, in keeping with their station, were seated at mahogany desks, elevated on a formal carpeted platform.  The bank was so ornate and regal that my mother and father actually wore their finest clothes  to inquire about a mortgage, the idea being to look prosperous enough to make the loan payments.

Imagine my excitement when I first set eyes on the People’s National Bank & Trust building in downtown White Plains.  More beautiful than the bank of my childhood, it had a coffered ceiling, brass Palladian windows, Neo-Classical architectural detail and a walk-in safe with a massive round steel door.  In the ten-plus years since ArtsWestchester (formerly Westchester Arts Council) purchased and renovated the bank (with a lot of help from our friends at Chase, who forgave our  purchase money mortgage), the bank has been no end of inspiration to me and my staff.  The Grand Banking Room, as it was called, is now a multi-discipline arts space in which artists stretch their imaginations, testing the height of our ceiling with monumental art works, and testing the lively acoustics of the vast open space with musical high notes.

The inspiration for The Bank & Trust Show, our current exhibition, came from the bank itself, which was built in 1928 just before the Great Depression.  With the current economy faltering, we invited Dara Meyers-Kingley, an independent curator, to take the pulse of contemporary artists and their feelings about the economy, value and trust.  Westchester Video Artist Chris Kaczmarek ( has constructed a new work,  “Castling,” a surveillance tower made from the old safe deposit boxes, which we stored in the basement.  Sarah Lawrence teacher Michael Vahrenwald ( toured the region taking photographs of old banks that have been repurposed into churches, restaurants and a martial arts school.   Many of the works are made of money as in Ray Beldner’s “Money Bag” ( and Tabitha Vever’s  “Value Added” ( painted on U.S. currency.  Many works are interactive as in Jennifer Dalton’s  “Are Times of Recession Good for Art?” in which visitors get to vote (  Sculptor Tom Otterness ( is represented in the show with the bronze “Embezzler and Cop” on loan from the Marlborough Gallery.

The Bank & Trust Show will be open through June 4th at the Arts Exchange, 31 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains.  Click here to view the PDF of The Bank & Trust Show brochure and to learn more about the exhibition. For information on the Arts Exchange Building, visit

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