Community Matters Cafe — The Restorative Abilities of Art & Foodby Marisa J Pascucci on July 22, 2019
The reason for being of the recently opened Community Matters Cafe is:
WHY – To Restore Hope
HOW – Using Work to Teach Life Skills that Create Opportunity
WHAT – Serve God, Serve People, Serve Great Food
This equally welcoming and attractive restaurant and coffee shop, does so much more than satiate the hunger and thirst of Charlotte.
As an extension of the Charlotte Rescue Mission, which “provide[s] Christian-based residential recovery programs that help men and women struggling with addiction achieve long-term sobriety,” the Cafe creates a skilled and caring environment in which Mission residents work alongside industry professionals proving “lasting life change possible by giving the graduates of Charlotte Rescue Mission the tools to thrive in our community, not just survive.”
This vision of fostering and serving the community is carried equally into the physical core of Community Matters Cafe.
As the Cafe empowers the staff and adds to the economy of Charlotte, it accomplished the same with the finishing details of the space, as many were produced by Charlotte creatives.
RESIDENTS GET CREATIVE
The series of six paintings installed in the restaurant are by Lauren Reddick and a group of 2018 Mission residents. With a desire to engage residents in a creative fashion, all six paintings were created under Lauren’s guidance.
The outcome was a set of four monumental panels, some say depicting the four seasons, and two smaller ones interpreting Charlotte’s skyline.
Even the paint and structure of these works have a community slant: the paint is ordinary house paint donated to the Mission years before that sat in storage waiting to be of use, and the panels were also constructed by the residents.
The four-panel series came first and the skyline followed after; as Lauren noted, “some of the residents weren’t comfortable with a fully abstract theme and needed a bit more direction of subject matter.”
Evan Plante, printmaker and founder of Docklands Design, was commissioned to fill a large blank wall in the Cafe’s private dining/meeting room. Best known for his illustration map marking the historical bounds of Charlotte’s neighborhoods, Evan designed a five-panel work.
Each section contains a collage of images (about 20 imprints per panel), including a section of his characteristic neighborhood map, along with a single Charlotte landmark, and historic pages from the Charlotte Observer dating between 1890 and 1920.
The “goal was always to weave a path from the past to the future; that’s what Community Matters is all about.” Created over a three-month period, the series is a tailor-made counterpart to the functional design of the Cafe while paying homage to the city and residents it serves.
WOOD YOU BELIEVE?
The Cafe’s coffee shop portion houses a communal table by Brady Nicholson of Dogwood Farm Designs.
It is a singularly impressive example of functional art that seats up to 14, suspends from the ceiling, and has ample power outlets.
Titled Suspension of Disbelief (an apt name as it weighs approximately 200 pounds), Brady describes it and its placement as “The removal of bias or logic to cultivate a super-realistic interpretation…Community Matters Cafe operates with this type of vision, and it is an honor to build them this centerpiece.”
“I knew the piece would be one symbol of what comprises the Cafe’s effort and mission. I wanted to use a blend of mixed wood species to mirror the gathering of all types of people there.”
MAKERS IN THE MIDDLE
While the construction and design of Community Matters Cafe is complete, it continues to support the Queen City’s creative corps. A rustic shelving unit provides a separation of the entranceway and offers wares from two community-minded maker organizations — Fashion & Compassion and Empower for Hope.
If you find yourself on the path of wanting to be the change that nearly all of humanity is currently seeking, start by walking into Community Matters Cafe for a coffee or meal – and stay a bit longer for the art.