Supporting the Arts

Historical Connection

Metropolitan Capital occupies the entire North Annex of the historic Tree Studios, a workshop to many of Chicago's great artists over the past century. The recent comprehensive restoration has returned this property to its original glory, featuring extensive terra cotta reliefs, 18-ft. ceilings and four 12-ft. picture windows. Original period finishes, railings, bay windows and built-in cabinets decorate the Bank’s 24 additional rooms, including two conference rooms on the first floor, mezzanine offices for the Private Capital Managers that overlook the Bank's main and second floors and a grand conference room in one of the second floor Great Rooms.

Ongoing Efforts

In addition to preserving the physical building, we intend to preserve this building’s artistic spirit through a strong tie to the art community. Metropolitan Capital launched, "Art Works Chicago", which features rotating exhibitions of work by prominent Chicago artists displayed in the workplace setting. 

Several shows each year feature artists in the Chicago nexus, enriching an already unique space with fine artwork. This initiative creates a platform for employees and visitors to meet artists, better understand the art making process, and engage in thoughtful dialogue. The art and unique space gives the bank a very non-traditional feel. This non-traditional approach is at the core of what we do – developing creative solutions to complex financial situations for our clients and partners.

Current Exhibition

Portraits and Places: Artists Redefining Realism features a variety of contemporary art from Chicago's Gallery Victor Armendariz. With a focus on figurative and realistic imagery, Victor Armendariz represents several artists from the Midwest and beyond who paint or draw their interpretation of the landscape around them and the people who live in it. From skylines to the farmlands; from city slickers to suburbanites, there is a wide range of imagery. 

Each artist demonstrates their technique and exquisite intricacies in each of the pieces exhibited. The work showcases the dynamic and powerful environment in which we live and shines a new light on the people who live in it.


Thunderstorm Near Alton, IL • Oil on panel • 48x72 in 

Jeff Aeling was first drawn to the interplay of land, sky, and water when his family moved to Hawaii when he was a child. Now based in Kansas City, Missouri, Aeling creates serene oil paintings on board that depict the relationship between these three elements, working from photographs in his studio rather than en plein air. His past works include Midwestern landscapes in which cloud-heavy skies contrast with flat plains and Hawaiian seascapes, their roiling waves conveying a sense of tranquility nevertheless. For a recent series done on the East End of Long Island, Aeling painted landscapes only during twilight. “It’s the time of day when things get a lot more interesting,” he has said. In works such as Sunset at Long Beach, sky, land, and water play off each other, as an opalescent lagoon reflects the pink of the descending sun.

Coal Yard, South Branch Chicago River • Oil on panel • 24x48 in 

Art Chartow’s current work focuses on the structures and artifacts of heavy industry that have shaped the American landscape. Power stations, factories, steel mills and infrastructure represent strength, industrial might, the ability to vanquish nature. Yet all such structures are, like anything else in this world, ephemeral, transitory, vulnerable to the vagaries of global economics and technological progress. These places are strange, sinister and forbidding; beautiful, fragile, sometimes abandoned and decaying. Such landscapes speak of loss, transience, the passage of time and the brave futility of human endeavor when set against the inevitability of change.

Persistant Remainders • Oil on canvas • 63x72 in 

Born in 1980, Benjamin Duke is an American artist from Louisville. After studying art, literature and philosophy at the University of Utah, he graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Arts. He has been teaching painting and drawing at the Michigan State University since 2006. Duke's painting's are an explosion, like a riot which don't restrict itself to the borders of the canvas. His work has been presented in several personal exhibitions on a national and international level, like Gallery Victor Armendariz in Chicago. Benjamin Duke was also chosen for international residencies in Bamboo Curtain Studios and Kuandu Museum of Fine Art; a catalog which presented his works from 2001 until 2010 published in 2010.

Trapper • Oil on linen • 21x17 in 

Employing the techniques of the past in the service of contemporary exploration, Frazier seeks to add a fresh voice to the sometimes venerable, sometimes dusty and archaic tradition of large-scale figurative painting, while subtly addressing the mythology, objectification and subjugation of women. Her subjects are at first glance close to home-new mothers, friends, lovers, artists, dancers-but are then quickly placed at a distance via edgy modification, rigorous technique, minimal contexts and composition, and idiosyncratic use of color. The artist is also interested in social presentation, artifice, and simulation as they relate to the subjects. Rose Frazier hopes to peel away a gossamer thin layer of reality, not just to document the real but also to reveal what might be.

Untitled • Oil on panel • 20x16 in 

Caleb O’Connor sets strong figurative work in the lush tropical scenery of his native land, Honolulu. He is a remarkable storyteller. His wondrous oil paintings move from lonely contemplation to human interaction. The narratives successfully depict the connection between nature and humanity.

Cows, Kettle Moraine, WI • Archival pigment print • 16x20 in 

“Through a black and white lens, hidden stories of everyday objects become apparent. The juxtaposition of strong light and dark shadows transform and illuminate detail that would otherwise be dismissed. Diminutive elements become rich in meaning allowing compositions to effortlessly evolve. As I attempt to uncover the hidden truth of the world around me, I am inevitably mesmerized by it and I hope you will be too.”

A self-taught photographer, Kirill Polevoy, first started making photographs with an old Russian film camera "Zorki" in 2003. In 2010, he switched to the digital format and primarily works in black and white. Kirill currently resides in Chicago, where he concentrates on street photography with an occasional landscape.

Buddy Guy • Silver gelatin print • 16x20 in 

For over 70 years, Art Shay documented his life, combining his gifts of storytelling, humor and empathy. Born in 1922, he grew up in the Bronx and then served as a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, during which he flew 30 bomber missions and 22 aid missions. From 1947-1949, while on staff as a writer for Life magazine, Shay wrote hundreds of bylines while helping out some of the greatest of Life's photographers. In 1949, Shay became a Chicago-based freelance photographer, landing thousands of assignments for Life, Time, Sports Illustrated and other national publications. Shay photographed nine US Presidents & major literary,business, entertainment, science and political figures of the 20th century. A world class street photographer, Shay wondered countless miles throughout the 1950s exploring the city with author Nelson Algren, the winner of the first National Book Award. Shay wrote weekly columns for various newspapers, several plays, children's books, sports books and several photo essay books including "My Florence" released in February 2015. Shay's photography is included in the permanent collections of museums including the National Portrait Gallery, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Photography - Chicago.

Silverstone Yellow Jasmine • Oil on panel • 40x40 in 

For Michael Van Zeyl, portraiture is much more than a one-sided translation of the artist’s point of view taking form in a subject. It’s an engaging visual dialogue that renders a soul in light, shadow and pigment, continuing the conversation for future generations to appreciate.

While technical skill and accurate rendering are only part of Michael’s gift, his experience has honed his craft to the highest standard. His talents were apparent by age seven and he spent subsequent decades mastering a wide range of painting techniques. In particular, 17th century Dutch and 19th century impressionist styles have resonated with him and surfaced in his own works.

Overlook Pond and River • Oil on canvas • 36x48 in

Ahzad Bogosian’s most recent work comprises intimate reflections on low horizons and dominant skies. Bogosian not only depicts the natural forces surrounding the Midwest – stormy skies, quiet fields, and waterways bathed in the warm glow of twilight – he also alludes to the intrusion of man into the landscape.The horizon vanishes into the distance. Autumn light unveils itself in the haunting stillness of the fields. An isolated vapor appears to be frozen in time. These are the real places of the Midwest – the rivers, the pastures, and hills where the vast sky is ever changing in its poetry of light.

Motion Picture 7 • Oil on linen • 52x72 in

Conklin’s work, figurative painting, employs the genre of narrative, telling stories with symbols, characters and staging to capture pictorial dramas. Stylistically, the artist’s work fits into the tradition of figurative painting using traditional methods while frequently depicting this high-tech contemporary environments. He likes the idea of using an old method of depiction (painting) to show a twenty-first century objects. Conklin prefers to paint directly from life whenever possible, in order to directly engage, and draw inspiration from, the physical presence of his subject.

Barley Field • Oil on canvas • 24x48 in

Deborah Ebbers body of work is quiet and reflective by nature. At first glance there is an energy of peacefulness, however underneath this stillness there is more going on. She creates a sense of mystery through the composition and playing with the aesthetic power of light moving through the landscape. To borrow an analogy from music it's the spaces between the notes which shape the piece. The artist uses the negative, dark spaces, and what's not so apparent to bring mystery and drama to the illumination. This is where the use of color becomes a critical aspect to the work. She uses multiple layers of translucent color to create a dynamic surface, whether it's the shadow or illuminated aspects of the piece, there is a depth created through the use of this technique. In many ways it would be simpler to mix all of the colors at once, but through the use of translucent colors layered over each other, (sometimes up to 7 or 8 layers of paint) the work becomes vivid and energetic. It is this dialogue that the artist sets out to achieve when someone views her work.

Deborah Ebbers monumental landscape paintings combine intuition, finely developed craftsmanship, and discipline. The result is an extravaganza of color and light. To achieve the ethereal presence and luminosity that her work is known for, it is not uncommon to find ten or more layers of glaze over parts of her pieces. Her canvases reflect a high standard of expertise, exploration, and invention, in a style that is ever evolving.

Pyrrhus • Oil on canvas • 48x36 in

Conklin’s work, figurative painting, employs the genre of narrative, telling stories with symbols, characters and staging to capture pictorial dramas. Stylistically, the artist’s work fits into the tradition of figurative painting using traditional methods while frequently depicting this high-tech contemporary environments. He likes the idea of using an old method of depiction (painting) to show a twenty-first century objects. Conklin prefers to paint directly from life whenever possible, in order to directly engage, and draw inspiration from, the physical presence of his subject.

Peregrine City • Acrylic on panel • 24x24 in 

Rick Pas is an artist intrigued with surface textures and creating paintings that portray them in highly realistic detail. The goal of a painting is to feel like one can run a hand over the feathers or grasp an object in the painting. The subjects painted are usually based on the patterns and textures of nature and human interaction with nature.

Living Dangerously • Oil on canvas • 72x48 in 

Don Pollack’s work comes from his experiences through journey and travel. Moving through the landscape, the presence of history saturates the experience. Painting oil on canvas, performance, and installations,— Pollack is interested in experiencing the landscape,— past traumas and revelations eventually speak to the violent conflict on perspectives of the land, the spaces we inhabit, inextricably forget that we are a part of, we conquer, and we picture.Through a physical journey, the measures of his work attempts to make a space for knowing the North American landscape. Often, Pollack's paintings document a landscape that flows between two realities: one outside the picture attempting to capture nature and one inside the material flow of abstracting my experience of space. The process begins by operating within a traditional mode of landscape painting and observation. Here his painting process explores light, shadows, and transparency akin to the Hudson River School tradition. At the other end, Pollack’s process begins by looking back at the way he looks at nature and documents the emotional space that experience holds for him in the land, memory and history.

Umblecumstumble • Oil on panel • 20.5x18.5 in 

Captivated by Victorian- and Edwardian-era representations of ideal masculinity, Aaron Smith explores ideas of strength and vulnerability in the male image. Through his use of vibrant colors, lively brushstrokes, and generously applied oil paint, Smith contradicts the stoic bravado embodied by men in portraits from 18th- and early 19th-century England. He also animates still life paintings and depictions of statues with a loose hand and otherworldly hues. The artist attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where he is now Associate Chair. He was the first artist in residence at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Wishing Wings • Oil and collage on canvas • 50x62 in 

Victor Wang’s experience of settling into America in search of better opportunities has been both challenging and inspiring. He uses the human face as a vehicle to paint human experiences - worry and wonder, sadness and pleasure - which reflect the emotional stage directly tied to his immigration experiences. The artist’s incorporation of collages of figures from China’s Tang Dynasty represents his Chinese heritage and is a constant reminder of where he came from. The texture and earthiness on the canvas’s surface are inspired by the texture of the soil on the farm where he worked in China. Although Wang often gets great pleasure from the process of painting, it is most important to him to unfold expressively those feelings within himself.