Art and charity go together

Friday, November 6, 2009

Handmade pottery can be expensive. Or, it can cost only $12 and come with Sunday lunch.

The annual Empty Bowls Banquet will be from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Salvation Army, with a variety of soups, bread and a dessert on the menu. Diners get this modest meal to remind them that food can sometimes be hard to come by and many people only get a small amount -- sometimes not even daily. Diners also get a handmade bowl of their choosing to take home to remind them of the need every day.

When we think of the catered or buffet affairs we enjoy multiple times a year, "banquet" hardly seems like the appropriate word for this annual event, but the camaraderie and purpose I guess qualify it as enough of a special event to be considered a "banquet."

It is a special event, too, no doubt about that. Empty Bowls is a national not-for-profit that raises money for local food banks.

Organizers get grants and funding from places like the United Way to buy clay and paint for the bowls, and community members, the artistic and the not, shape, paint and help fire the bowls.

Students from Southeast Missouri State University nutrition classes plan the menu and prepare the food come banquet day. Then you come and eat it and get a bowl. Since I learned about this program and started paying attention, I've seen bowls in people's offices, homes and given as gifts. I always smile, knowing that person cared enough to come and eat.

It seems like art and charity often get framed together. The First Friday reception tonight at Aartful Rose, the new gallery in town, donates 10 percent of art sales and wine sales to the Malaina Cunningham and Friends Boundless Playground for Children of All Abilities, a proposed playground that would have handicapped-accessible equipment.

Delilah Tayloe, with Aartful Rose, pointed out that the playground would be great for children but also parents who may be in a wheelchair or otherwise handicapped. The owners of the gallery and sister Rose Bed Inn business have taken on this cause as their charity of choice and devoted each First Friday reception to it.

Art: the push you might need to do a good deed.

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