The significance of the ReStore’s contributions to the arts are abundant.
At first look the ReStore displays a commitment to the arts by proudly displaying a 1,500 square foot mural executed by nine artists/art groups entitled, “Home is Where the Art is.” The mural is visible from the most heavily traveled section of interstate in West Virginia.
In addition to the five murals in and around the ReStore, and the numerous art classes and workshops offered in the ReStore’s Homeowner Education & Community Center, there are three specific ReStore initiatives that have fostered growth of the arts and influenced trends.
- The ReStore ReDesign Internship is offered annually in partnership with West Virginia State University to a WVSU student majoring in Fine Arts. The paid eight-week internship is designed to provide practical experience to budding professional artists while establishing the long term goal of transforming the ReStore into a public art gallery. Selected participants are expected to complete three objectives during the internship: create a permanent departmental display using recycled materials; create a temporary window display using recycled materials; and organize and execute a make-and-take workshop that is open to the public.
- The annual Double Take Art Show offered in partnership with Tamarack Foundation, West Virginia Craft Week and American Craft Week received a national Star Award from American Craft Week in 2015. The ReStore encouraged artists from across the state to participate by submitting a piece of thrift store art to which they added their own special touch. The show was displayed in the ReStore and members of the public voted for their favorite piece of “redirected” art, awarding the artist with the most votes a cash prize. Double Take received international attention when David Irvine, the Canadian artist whose art inspired the show, promoted Double Take in the media and by donating one of his original pieces to the show.
- Every Tuesday for the past three years, the ReStore has opened the Homeowner Education & Community Center free of charge to anyone and everyone interested in working on art in a communal environment designed to encouraged fellowship, support and inspiration. Typically, 10 – 20 repeat and new artists from Kanawha and surrounding counties attend. The Charleston Art Group, as they call themselves, has participated in Festivall events together, organized informational group meetings with Tamarack officials regarding the jurying process (several have subsequently become Tamarack artisans), and organized field trips around the state for art classes and retreats. In addition, artworks from individuals in the group are always on display and for sale in ReStore’s Homeowner Education & Community Center.
ReStore has served the artistic community since opening in 2001, but the strong commitment to the arts began in 2007.
ReStore income has increased 120% since 2007, the year Habitat for Humanity leadership made the strategic decision to intertwine the organization’s mission with support for the arts. The year-after-year sales increase has a direct impact on our economy. ReStore proceeds fund Habitat for Humanity houses creating new homeowners/tax-payers/stable engaged residents. Proceeds from the ReStore also foster growth of the arts by enabling continued and new arts initiatives.
It is important to note that the ReStore puts its money where its mouth is when supporting the arts. ReStore leadership understands the importance of the arts community in achieving Habitat for Humanity’s mission and regularly implements initiatives that improve the economic development of arts in West Virginia; a significant portion of the ReStore’s budget is devoted to supporting the arts. For example, the ReDesign internship pays a living wage to the selected artists and covers the expense of their supplies. Additionally, artists have been contracted and paid to produce three internal murals and the extensive restoration of the external mural. Finally, all artists that participate in Double Take art show, and other shows hosted by the ReStore, are given an entry gift card and the community choice winner is awarded a cash prize.