Friday, February 25, 2011

Little Bowl Waiting

For the past several years my museum colleagues and I have attended the Empty Bowls event benefitting the North Texas Food Bank at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Artists make beauiful bowls out of clay, glass and wood and donate them to the project. Local restaurants dish up their best soups, breads and desserts. This world-class I.M. Pei building is filled with people from all places trying new tastes and standing in line ever-so patiently. Every year these genius fundraisers try something new. Centerpieces on the tables (which were available for reservation) were stunning flower arrangements in exquisite works of art. Opportunities to "give" were everywhere and in the most creative places. If you really liked a soup you could "vote" with a dollar (or more) on your favorite. After trying generous samples of:

  • Thai Coconut Soup from Wolfgang Puck (*yum!)
  • Bubble Tea from Chill Bubble Tea
  • Tomato Artichoke Chowder from The Place at Perry's (great marketing trick here...bring your spoon in within ten days and get a free
  • Chicken Dumplings from McAlister's Deli
  • Turkey Chili from hmmm....can't remember
  • and Peach Cobbler from Celebration (*also YUM!)

We decided we were deliciously stuffed. I narrowly escaped the Silent Auction (lost a stunner of a work by Randy Broadnax) and we followed the happy crowd down to the lower level of the Meyerson to pick out our own bowl. Pick our our own bowl! This is perhaps the most genious moment of the event. Ticket-holders get to choose from a sea of bowls in every color of the rainbow. The mystery is in the making--some artists are high school students, some are professional potters with values far beyond the price of a ticket. But it's not about status as an artist, or investment value. It's about choosing what you like. Looking. Holding onto one bowl while you wait for another to speak to you. Strangers become friends at this Table of Aesthetic Choice.

After coinsidering a sweet rich blue tea bowl I chose Pink. A robust stoneware bowl in the warmest shade of pale pink with a layer of translucent celadon beneath the rim. The interior is a spotted milky-white glaze. As I turned the bowl upside down to inspect the potter's ability to finish the pot, I discovered with joy a whimsical scalloped edge on the rim. I'm a sucker for a good surprise. The signature on the base reads "Banes". Thank you dear Banes. Your art has brightened my day.

On the way to checking out with Pink I could donate any amount for a vessel made by a younger artist. Guests chatted merrily at those tables looking for Little Piccasos. Finally, one last opportunity to raise money for the foodbank was found at the "Bump Table" where, for a small sum you could "trade up" and turn in your find for a better, bigger one by an established artist. I stayed loyal to Pink. I think she'll be happy in our home.

Pretty brilliant right? An event with grand fundraising potential connecting artists, food lovers, chefs, philanthropists, people from health and human services, and corporate partners all eating and talking about art in the Dallas Arts District. And you get to take a little art home with you. And it's for a great cause! It was a happy place filled with happy people--not easy to find these days.

As a dear friend says, "What's not to love?"

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