Artist Oran Stainbrook spent years looking at real estate throughout the country in search of a large fixer-upper commercial space that he could redevelop into a community art space.
Through his wandering and searching, he discovered the old Company Store located in Kenilworth a few years ago and realized that it was exactly what he had been searching for. An added bonus for Stainbrook was that the store is in Utah, which is where he was born and raised and where much of his family still resides.
Stainbrook began practicing art seriously in college, which was nearly 10 years ago. He attended school for architecture in Portland, Oregon and enrolled in many studio art classes along the way. Stainbrook’s primary art form will always be architecture; designing and building environments, landscapes, interiors and furniture. However, he also enjoys painting, drawing, sculpting and more.
Stainbrook remarked that the vision of the building is to first establish a cooperative live-work space for several artists to share as well as a gallery to show and sell the work. Offering a community event space to give the residents of Kenilworth an indoor area for gathering and socializing is also in the plans.
The Company Store was, at one time, the heart of the town and Stainbrook expressed that he wishes to restore it to its former glory as the community center. Hopes for potluck dinners, flea markets, movie nights and more are envisioned.
“Beyond that, we hope to establish a nonprofit organization here that would focus on doing revitalization work for the town, focusing on the improvement of public space – art installations, landscaping and place-making – and on helping low income, elderly and disabled residents maintain their homes,” Stainbrook stated.
Prior to purchasing the store and moving to Kenilworth, Stainbrook worked for Habitat for Humanity, doing neighborhood revitalization work and home repairs, lending experience and passion to this project. He stated that they hope to be fully operational and open to the public within two or three years, but the work may take longer.
“The restoration of this building is for me a masterpiece in itself. I am taking my time lovingly repairing and remodeling the place,” Stainbrook said. “I approach every aspect of the work as art and am incorporating used, salvaged, recycled and repurposed materials as much as possible, so it is not a typical construction process. You can’t rush great art and great buildings can sometimes take entire generations to complete. What we are creating is essentially a temple to the human spirit and so the process is almost a sacred one.”
Stainbrook continued by expressing his gratitude to being back in Utah after 16 years away on the West Coast, where he received his education and worked. In order to purchase the property, he obtained nine friends to pitch in and assist, making it technically owned by a team of 10 co-owners. Stainbrook said they see it as an experiment in cooperative real estate development.
Those that are interested in helping out or contributing to the project can visit the online Patreon here. As far as naming the building, Stainbrook stated that they wished to be respectful of those that have resided in Kenilworth all of their lives and reinvent the historic building in a way that is sensitive to the culture. With this in mind, he stated that the building will likely continue to be called “The Store in Kenilworth.”