Two months ago, Sarah Goff and Mike Myers sat outside a colossal empty warehouse in a mountain of old clothes, vinyl records, picture frames and empty vases. They waited. They sold trinkets at yard sales every Saturday. They waited some more.
They eventually sold enough to open The Repurpose Project in that warehouse, which is now almost filled with art supplies, sculptures and paintings.
The Repurpose Project is an organization that collects materials that would normally go to waste and uses them to create art.
The establishment, located in downtown Gainesville at 519 S. Main St., is a three-part art studio: a workspace for art creation, a gallery for art display and a reused art supply store.
“What we’re really trying to do is fill the recycle void,” Goff said, toting a purse made from old VHS film. “There are a lot of great materials out there with no place to go.”
Goff pointed to a painting and explained that the canvas was found in a Dumpster on UF campus. Artist Christina Rohan salvaged the paint from the Hazardous Waste Collection Center.
“We ask artists to use 75 percent recycled materials, but they usually use a lot more,” Meyers said.
The art center encompasses many forms of art such as carvings, collages, jewelry making, crafts and painting.
Goff said they attain the reusable materials by donation from individuals and businesses.
“Businesses spend a lot of money on disposal, and we’re giving them a place where they can take their waste,” Goff said. “They can reduce costs, save money and green their business.”
The Repurpose Project is a volunteer-based gallery, which currently houses eight artists and one intern who helps organize the donated materials.
Goff said they hope to start running workshops where they will educate people on certain forms of arts and crafts.
Goff has previously worked at Trash to Treasure, a creative reuse center in South Florida. Myers, who met Goff when she was looking for recycled lumber to build a tree house, has been in the recycling business for more than 40 years. He also works to educate children on reuse by holding workshops in Gainesville schools. He hopes to hold similar workshops to teach art with The Repurpose Project.
“It’s all about diversion from landfills and creating things people can use,” Myers said.
The Repurpose Project is currently looking for volunteers, artists and people to run education workshops. It’s open Mondays 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Myers said the center will also be participating in Art Walk Gainesville, an event that connects local artists to the community every last Friday of the month.
“People seem very excited about what we’re doing,” Meyers said. “We get a lot of positive response,” Goff added.