Known locally as “the bank,” this little building sat vacant for more 50 years until, in 2012, the Center for Living Education (CLE) partnered with the building’s owners, Charles and Marilyn Wooster, to rehabilitate the structure as a place for art, information and community.
The Woosters graciously agreed to give the CLE the use of the building, rent-free, for up to ten years. In 2013, The Bank Art Space opened with its first exhibition. The Bank Art Space was conceived, managed and curated by Ton Haak and Antonia Zoutenbier (with curatorial help from Laura Berman).
Haak and Zoutenbier, originally from the Netherlands, moved to Matfield Green from Abiquiu, NM in 2009. Before opening The Bank, they opened The Gallery at Pioneer Bluffs (no longer in operation) in the ranch house at Pioneer Bluffs outside of Matfield Green. Haak and Zoutenbier were also the first curators of The Symphony in the Flint Hills Gallery in Cottonwood Falls. Through their indefatigable support of individual artists and arts initiatives, Haak and Zountenbier left an enduring mark on Matfield Green. They now live in Portugal.
The Bank Art Space hosts four exhibitions a year and is co-managed and co-curated by Derek and Katherine Hamm and Matt and Tia Regier.
The Bank Art Space is committed to supporting local artists and exhibiting contemporary art that engages the Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem and rural community and culture. Matfield Green is a town with an official population of 45 in Chase County (population 2,790). Chase County is considered by many to be the heart of the Kansas Flint Hills. The Flint Hills are in turn the “last remnant” of the Tallgrass Prairie—arguably the most endangered ecosystem in the country.
Since it opened its doors in 2013, The Bank has been open every weekend (except in the winter season), welcoming visitors to the Flint Hills and offering information and conversations about the local landscape and culture.
Through community events and exhibition openings, we aim to create opportunities for community-building in Matfield Green while engaging with a wider visitor audience.
The Bank is also a primary partner for the Tallgrass Artist Residency, a program of the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission. The annual Tallgrass Artist Residency exhibition is hosted at The Bank Art Space every autumn.
The Center for Living Education
The Bank Art Space is a project of the CLE, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Matfield Green. The mission of CLE is to support the arts and community in Matfield Green, Kansas and the Flint Hills.
In February of 2019, the CLE purchased the building and will begin a full-scale renovation of the space. While initial renovations of the space allowed The Bank to operate for 6 successful years, the time has come to address large structural issues and add certain modern conveniences that we have hitherto been without: namely running water and a restroom. We will include more detailed and updated plans for the building as the plan progresses. If you are interested in supporting this project, please consider making a donation.