On the second floor of Sovereign Bank in Swampscott, a conference room is host to a bust of Abraham Lincoln as well as a handful of abstract artwork by radio host Francesca Bastarache.( The Legends 106.1FM in Newburyport). One empty space on the wall is the result of a recent sale of one of her acrylic paintings.
A cascade of gold circles dangle at least an inch from each earlobe, a clue to one of the many talents Francesca Bastarache possesses: belly dancing. Given the Swampscott artist’s background from Sicily to Scituate, it’s no wonder she’s been able to dive into a new career as an acrylic artist — and flourish.
Determination was learned at birth. Growing up the fifth of eight children, Bastarache had to make a lot of noise.
She says, “I made enough for all eight together.”
When she was 15 years old, Bastarache lied about her age in order to get a job at a local eatery. When her parents objected and refused to drive her to work, she simply and stubbornly hopped on her bicycle.
A similar situation presented itself following a neighbor’s Passover dinner. She was informed that Sovereign Bank in Swampscott was renovating its Paradise Road branch. Bastarache’s immediate thought was to offer an exhibit of her artwork, and she followed through. With an air of audacity, she walked in with only a postcard in hand to show her work, a mailing from a previous showing at Cornerstone Books in Salem. Vice President and Branch Manager Tony Daniels was nonetheless impressed with Bastarache’s boldness and also embraced the opportunity to connect the bank to the arts community.
Twenty-seven acrylic paintings were placed on walls throughout the bank’s two floors for an exhibit, “True Colors,” which will run through October’s end. At the Aug. 24 opening reception, approximately 70 “top tier” bank clients and guests of the artist arrived. In just two hours, five pieces sold, and two more went soon after the opening.
Daniels says, “This show has been the most popular. Not every artist sells seven paintings.”
The last exhibit included the works of Harrison Avenue contemporary artist Fernando DeOliveira.
“I want to be the George Bailey of Swampscott,” says Daniels, referencing the community-friendly character in Frank Capra’s 1947 film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
For the artist, hanging work on the walls of this bank presents little risk, as the bank doesn’t take a commission on works sold.
“Just be a customer of the bank,” says Daniels of the single condition for the artists involved. In fact, many of the bank’s employees, as well as its customers, enjoy the colorful artwork, especially Daniels, who confesses to moving his personal favorite onto the wall of his neighboring associate so that he might enjoy the view.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:30-9 p.m., the bank will host a grand re-opening of its remodeled Vinnin Square offices at 495 Paradise Road. Performing will be the North Shore Music Academy Choir and special guests from the North Shore Music Theatre. RSVP to Anabela Archilla, 781-593-0386.
Daniels touts Sovereign as a “community bank,” which works with clients such as the Jewish Community Center.
decided to open a wellness center in Connecticut, where she and her husband, Ray, who owned a bartering business, thrived.