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Located in downtown Kaukauna on the Fox River, the Bank of Kaukauna is a bank first, with comfy chairs, teller stations and meeting rooms. But CEO John Brogan has turned the building into more than a place to deposit checks. Brogan has accomplished this by assembling an art collection inside the bank, in a distinct space that combines form and function. “The feeling I wanted to give was that of a great hotel or a really nice space in a larger city,” Brogan says.

Most of the pieces he chose are by artists featured in world-class collections: Robert Cottingham, Judy Pfaff, Fred Stonehouse and Robin Griebe, to name a few. Others artists are up-and-coming, whose work is just waiting to be discovered. Every piece in the bank has a story.

“Empire” by Cottingham depicts a sign on the street where Rosa Parks famously refused to move from her seat. “Search for a Cure” by Stonehouse hangs in the same room; it is, as Brogan explains, “a potent symbol of how decisions are made.” Other works, such as Kathleen Clark’s “Foreclosure Quilt” and Griebe’s “Tempest,” deal with the 2008 financial crisis and its chain reactions: “Foreclosure Quilt” is an abstract map of empty houses in Chicago, and for Brogan, “Tempest” is about maintaining a steady course in trying times.

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From these and other pieces, a theme of social justice naturally emerges. As Brogan put it, “The artistic community is struggling with how race and refugees fit in, and the pieces reflect that.”

He hopes to add museum-quality plaques to the pieces to allow for self-guided tours. To view the collection, the public is welcome to visit the bank at 264 W Wisconsin Ave, Kaukauna, during regular business hours Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.– 5 p.m.

Arts & Culture

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