Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sea of Bowls Helps Feed Northland's Hungry

When I first came to Duluth seeking a writing job, the word on the street was that the place to be if I wanted job security was Harcourt-Brace-Javonovich (HBJ), a magazine publisher that employed as many as 400 people in their downtown offices. Despite the fact that a VP there had the same name as me, fortune intervened and I landed a writing position elsewhere. What people didn't see was the upheavals that would soon be so disruptive in the magazine industry. HBJ was sold, and the next company and the next. Consolidation moved some people to offices in Cleveland and left others to see employment elsewhere.

One of these was Dave Lynas, a graphic designer at HBJ, who chose not to leave the region, remaining here where he was already part of a community. The decision freed up his time to pursue his passion as a ceramicist and making pottery, teaching classes at the Duluth Art Institute and being a quiet influence for good to this day, and an unsung hero in the community for his lifetime of "giving back."

This week, in the Depot's Great Hall, the 20th annual Empty Bowl benefit is being conducted to raise money for the benefit of Second Harvest Food Bank, the largest provider of meals for the hungry in our region. According to potter Karin Kraemer, "Empty Bowl was the Brainchild of Dave Lynas and Linda Hebenstreit at the Duluth Art Institute." It's a remarkable event, both for its community participation and its impact. It's another major was in which the arts gives back to the community.

Nearly everyone involved in the pottery scene, artisan and amateur alike, is involved somehow. Many, like Kraemer, open their studios for months in advance so that others can join in making of decorating bowls. (I decorated two.) Local schools have students making bowls. The Duluth Art Institute, Lake Superior College and many others contribute. In the end, it's literally a sea of bowls and historically it works like this: you go to the Depot and buy a bowl of soup, except you get to take the bowl home with you. The Empty Bowl benefit provides you with a meal, and you also have a souvenir that also serves to remind you of the hunger here that has not been eradicated in our neighborhoods.

Second Harvest Food Bank provided 3.8 million dollars worth of meals last year. Empty Bowl helps stock those food supplies.

Because not all bowls are created equal, the event has evolved to include opportunities to bid on more exquisite ceramic works that have been set aside for this purpose. These are currently being auctioned online at
Tomorrow evening, April 15, is the famous Sea of Bowls, a.k.a. Empty Bowl Preview Night, a gallery-style showing complete with wine and cheese reception. Bowls range in price from $25-$100. If you're expecting a nice tax refund, this might be a good place to consider sharing some of it. The event is from 5–7 pm at The Depot, 506 West Michigan Street here in Duluth. 

Tuesday's the big day, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  $20 includes a bowl and a simple soup meal. Price drops to $15 after 4:30. 

Everyone in the area is invited to come buy a bowl of soup. The bowl goes home with you, the money goes to the needy. You end up with your tummy full, and so do those whose stomachs need filling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great idea! I usually support these types of things, but right now with being out of work I can't afford anything much extra. I'll have to catch up after I get a job. I hope you sell lots of soup and bowls! Linda L