The former Newburgh Savings Bank is now an art space.

‘Arts instigator’ hopes to transform former bank and theater

In the recent opening of Savaggi Gallery, an art space located in the former Newburgh Savings Bank, collaboration was key.

The cavernous space at 94 Broadway, with its arched ceilings, vaults, tunnels and marble floors, has been christened the Bank Arts Center and become the home of a nonprofit dedicated to staging large-scale, immersive installations incorporating light and sound. It will also offer live performances, artist residencies and arts education.

Rosanna Scimeca, a large-scale sculptor herself, is the founder of Savaggi Arts and director of its gallery at the Bank Arts Center. She describes Savaggi as an “arts instigator” that works with property owners to transform unused urban spaces “into beautiful, engaging art spaces that reflect and serve the local community.”

Rosanna Scimeca
Rosanna Scimeca (Photo by Daniel Murtaugh)

Before moving to Newburgh, Scimeca lived for most of her life in Brooklyn and also spent time in Oakland, California, which has a strong community of large-sculpture artists. She said she began “a quest to figure out how to have a big space in the East.” She discovered Newburgh about seven years ago and “it floated in my consciousness for a while.” 

When the pandemic hit, she suddenly felt her Brooklyn spaces were too small. “I knew there’d be a big building in my future,” she says. 

After making the move, “it started cooking” when she found the former Park Theater at 315 Broadway, which she would like to see turned into an arts center with studios, public spaces and galleries. “I jumped on its mix of a romantic image mixed with gritty architecture,” she says. 

“Meanwhile, I was getting to know people in town,” including Ted Doering of the Gerald A. Doering Foundation, which owns the bank building. “Ted didn’t know what to do with it,” she says. “It’s an incredible space and I’m so glad it didn’t become a drugstore.”

The building had housed one of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums, but after founder David Karpeles died in 2022, Doering decided the building could honor his legacy if it housed innovative creativity that was shared with the Newburgh community.

A rendering shows the proposed renovation of the former Park Theater in Newburgh.
A rendering shows the proposed renovation of the former Park Theater in Newburgh.

Once developed, the Park Theater “will be more of the commercial side — a place to make, fabricate, install, get funding — all with the idea of big art being accessible in public spaces,” says Scimeca.

Scimeca, who has a master’s degree in interdisciplinary arts, has worked on many projects incorporating textures, visuals and sound. She says the gallery wouldn’t have felt complete without sound, and “there aren’t many venues for ambient music artists. The sound is recorded in response to the art and becomes a part of the same exhibition that informed the performance.”

There will also be chocolate — Scimeca is a chocolate maker — as well as digital art, perhaps using the outside of the building as a canvas. In addition, “the lot across the street is empty and the owner offered us space to put in a sculpture and murals.

“Ancestors Night,” by Kate Raudenbush
“Ancestors Night,” by Kate Raudenbush

“We’re totally at the beginning,” she says. “You have to be willing to dive in head first. I have tentacles out for conversations; the connections are being made. Everyone loves the idea of living in an environment of creativity, especially in the times we’re in.” 

The Savaggi Gallery, located inside the Bank Arts Center at 94 Broadway in Newburgh, is open from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. Its current exhibition, Kate Raudenbush’s Inner Landscapes, runs through Aug. 10. See thebank.art

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Rooney has been writing for The Current since its founding in 2010. A playwright, she has lived in Cold Spring since 1999. She is a graduate of Binghamton University, where she majored in history. Location: Cold Spring. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: Arts

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