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Former Bank of America building in South Deerfield to become center for arts

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Rather than being a venue for cashing checks and signing loans, the former Bank of America building will become a place to exchange and show art.

Jane Trigere and Ken Schoen of South Deerfield purchased the Sugarloaf Street bank building and closed on the deal last month.

The main entrance of the bank will be transformed into an art gallery, displaying changing exhibits from local and national artists. The bankers’ exchange area will morph into an arts supply store, the bank manager’s office will become an art classroom and the ATM room will turn into an installation art room, called the ATM installation gallery.

All together, the site will become the new Deerfield Arts Bank, a title that represents the building’s past and present.

Trigere hopes to open by the winter.

“Our goal is to have something happening all the time here,” Trigere said.

Nineteen years ago, Trigere and Schoen moved to South Deerfield from New York City and turned the old fire house into a book shop, Schoen Books, and a home.

“We’ve been living in this great building,” Trigere said. “We had different ideas of what to do here.”

Trigere, an artist, worked for the former Hatikvah Holocaust Education Center in Springfield as a museum director and later studied art history and commuted to New York to attend the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

The couple had debated opening a bed and breakfast, with an art gallery in front and the book shop. But they realized their building could not fit all their ideas and they searched the town for available sites.

“We thought, ‘What does this town need?’ ” Trigere said. “What brings people in and brings them back? I thought I’d like to have an arts supply store, art classes and an art gallery.”

In July, the bank next door to them put up a for-sale sign and the couple made their bid.

“I have this energy and this knowledge and I’m happy to have a place to share it,” Trigere said. “I feel privileged to be able to do this. I’d like it to be a beacon of joy and artistic expression.”

Trigere, who will run the gallery, said she and her husband have three goals — to have fun, to create community and to pay their bills.

“All three have to coexist,” Trigere said. “I want it to feel welcome. I want people to wonder what’s happening at the Deerfield Arts Bank.”

The arts bank will have a roster of classes for children and adults from oil painting to pastel to book binding and embroidery lessons.

At the front of the building will be the exhibits, the first of which is anticipated for February, if all goes according to plan, Trigere said.

The first exhibit would feature local artists. But the goal is to have not only local art, but feature a variety of work. Once a year, Trigere said she would like to invite Frontier Regional School students to do an exhibit.

Lectures from fiction to politics to poetry would be held in the evening.

Trigere also plans to have live music.

“We want this also to be affordable for the community,” Schoen said.

Trigere and Schoen see the arts bank as part of a South Deerfield renaissance.

The Mosaic Arts Cafe, recently opened in the former Elm Street Bakery along with the abutting Pure Yoga and Wellness Studio.

“There’s a lot of talent in South Deerfield,” Schoen said. “You have all this happening.”

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