Getting a new lease on life



By Sarah Brookbank

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Sitting unassumingly near the heart of downtown Lexington, sandwiched between a parking garage and an apartment building, is Peoples Bank. However, the bank will not be there much longer.

Most students driving up South Broadway from downtown to campus probably haven’t seen the bright turquoise building with a zigzag roof. The building is currently sitting on a piece of prime property and at one point was facing demolition.

The building will be donated to the Warwick Foundation by the property owners who would have torn it down, under the condition that the bank will be moved to a new location. While the Warwick Foundation raised enough money to save the bank, it is now a question of moving the building itself.

Stuart Horodner, director of the UK Art Museum, is curating the Peoples Portal, an event showcasing the bank to raise money.

“This is one of the few mid-century sites in this city, and is a really good example of that kind of architecture from that period,” said Horodner, which is why he donated to save the bank. “When I walked into the bank … I went, ‘Oh this is perfect.’”

Peoples Bank has been unoccupied for a number of years, and Horodner said the state of decay is a major part of the appeal — like the peeling paint of the aqua walls, an abandoned open safe and glass windows that light up the interior of the building.

“The building was just so amazing, which we already knew because everyone was trying to save it,” Horodner said. “It was such an amazing and historical place – it’s beautiful and in an amazing state of decay — I thought it was a perfect place to stage an exhibition with artists whose works engage architecture and time and transformation.”

The artists are mostly local, but some are out of state. The works being presented in the exhibition are a mixture of mediums – performance, sculpture, paintings. Horodner said some of the art will be relocated while other art is being created specifically for this exhibition.

“This is not a pristine white gallery or a pristine white museum, or walls that are a classic neutral background,” Horodner said. “This is a site that has a lot of personality of its own, so the art is now engaged with and against that setting.”

The setting inside the Peoples Bank gives artists a chance to do things they have never done before. Horodner said the setting drove his choices in artists, regardless of whether they were local or national, or established or emerging.

Horodner said this weekend provides an opportunity for the people of Lexington to re-engage with the bank before it is moved and renovated. Horodner said while the main goal of the event is to help raise money for the bank, he hopes people see the bank as a setting for historical and contemporary art.

“We want to continue to draw attention to the nature of the bank as an ongoing project. There is still ongoing money raising and an awareness raising campaign.” Hordoner said. “Once the bank was ‘saved’ it is very easy then for people to stop thinking about it.”

The bank is slated to move in the spring in 2016.

Peoples Portal will take place on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday it will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be a closing reception Saturday at 4 p.m.

“If you don’t come and see this thing, you’re never going to see it again,” Horodner said. “There’s an urgency to see it over the weekend. These opportunities don’t happen every minute.”