Fill 'er p!


POSTED: Monday, February 02, 2009

Not much can replace the comfort of a bowl of soup, with its capacity to soothe and restore both body and soul. And so, it's most fitting that bowls and soups are at the core of a fundraiser to fight hunger this week.





        Place: The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.

Time: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday


Cost: $15


Call: 941-8108 or visit hawaiipottersguild.org



The “;Empty Bowl”; project, organized by the Hawaii Potters' Guild, comprises 660 ceramic bowls and some 30 gallons of soup that are to be sold at the ARTS at Marks Garage during this week's First Friday gallery walk in Chinatown. Proceeds will benefit Hawaii Foodbank.

“;Empty Bowl”; offers the soup-loving public a helping of warm sustenance cooked up by the likes of Side Street Inn, Cafe Laufer, Downtown, Tikis and Great Life Cuisine, served in hefty, beautiful vessels handmade by isle potters. For $15, donors get to select their favorite bowl and choose from minestrone, Kahuku corn chowder, macrobiotic black bean and other soups. They enjoy the soup and keep the bowl.

“;Empty Bowl,”; new to Hawaii, has been adopted by communities nationwide since it was started in 1990 in Michigan. Potters' Guild member Paul McGuffey heard about the project while in Texas and presented the idea to the guild two years ago. The group jumped on it right away.

“;This an affordable, grass-roots fundraiser,”; says Sidney Lynch, guild president. “;Other benefits (cost upward of) $60 or $70. This one is more inclusive.”;

Members began by producing bowls at the guild's semiannual “;throw-a-thons,”; in which recycled clay (left over from other projects) are shaped into bowls. The guild also brought in artists who taught various glazing techniques, and participants practiced on the bowls. In the end, 500 pieces were produced, and Koko Head Potters, Makua Alii Potters and the Fort Shafter Crackpots pitched in another 160 bowls.

In addition, noted ceramists such as Yukio Ozaki, Daven Hee, Paul Nash, Ken Kang, Charles Patten, Walter Stephan, Jeff Berenberg and Mary Mitsuda have donated “;signature bowls”; for a silent auction. Ramone Camarillo, an award-winning ceramist, will play slack key at the event with his group “;Southern Swell.”;

While organizing the project provided a few challenges, things have come together nicely. There were concerns about finding a venue and attracting folks to an unfamiliar event. But “;Empty Bowl”; will piggyback on the guild's 42nd annual exhibit at the spacious Marks Garage, which is located at the heart of the ever-popular First Friday festivities, ensuring exposure.

And gathering donations and some three dozen volunteers was rather easy. “;I was not rejected by anybody,”; Lynch says.

“;The food bank is one of the best charities out there because ... it gives to a lot of people,”; says Colin Nishida, whose Side Street Inn is contributing its popular corn chowder. “;I was more than willing to help.”;

That spirit of generosity has kept the charity's pantry well stocked during an increasingly tough time, says Polly Kauahi, Hawaii Foodbank's director of development.

“;There really are two points: There is tremendous need in the community, and it's growing exponentially. There's a doubling and tripling of food lines at a time when corporate donations are down. On the other hand, the community has stepped up. ... Food distribution is actually up—we can actually give more.”;

Feelings of good will continue to buoy “;Empty Bowl”; co-chairwoman and Potters Guild member Cindy Chaponot, even after two years of organizing. “;We had a zero budget, and now we have over 600 bowls, soup and manpower,”; she says happily.

On top of that, she continues to possess a sense of wonder about the hundreds of bowls she helped produce.

“;Which bowl did you pick?”; she asks a visitor to the guild who was making an early donation. “;We could tell you a story about almost any bowl.”;