Dozens of Nevada County potters throw their best effort into what some of them jokingly call “bowling.”
And while those generous artists may joke, they know that to the people Hospitality House’s seventh annual Empty Bowl event is meant to benefit, the matter is one of life or death.
“There’s a lot of talk about awareness. This is not just talk. This is action,” said Katherine Walden, one of the donor artists from Nevada City. “This is hopeful. People are tired of being helpless.”
Every year, artists like Walden craft hundreds of colorful, handmade ceramic bowls for people to purchase at Empty Bowl, put on by Hospitality House, the county’s largest homeless service provider.
For $20, guests get to choose a bowl Saturday and pick from 18 different varieties of soups and breads. Children under 12 years old are invited to attend the event for free.
“When somebody chooses a special bowl at the Empty Bowl event, they take home an everyday reminder that some people here in Nevada County are hungry and homeless,” said Chic Lotz, owner of the Potter’s Wheel in Grass Valley.
Lotz averages 60 bowls donated per year with another 40 from her students.
“The heart of this community event lies in the experience of sharing a simple supper of bread and soup to express commitment to those among us who are hungry and homeless,” said Joanna Robinson, board president of Hospitality House.
There will also be an auction of larger, fine art serving bowls.
“This is such an amazing community. It’s a way to give back,” said Yvon Dockter, a professional potter in Nevada City.
At last count, she had 81 bowls (and still counting) in various stages of progress on every flat space in her living room.
Dockter invites artist friends over to decorate the bowls she has thrown.
She makes and fires the bowls, but the painted designs on the bowls are often from artists whose primary expertise lies in other media.
“I just get a lot of joy out of doing this,” said Patrick McCauley of Nevada City.
More than 90 volunteers are committing time to serve at the event, including some guests of Hospitality House, said Cindy Maple, Hospitality House’s executive director.
“It’s a little tiny thing I can do for an organization that does so much,” said Laura Morton, a Grass Valley potter.
This year, there will be two servings at Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley. The first serving will be from noon to 2 p.m., and the second serving will be from 5 to 7 p.m.
“It’s a reminder that there is hunger and poverty in the world and in our community,” Maple said.
The more than 80 gallons of soup are donated from 31 area restaurants, Maple said.
“Not only do they give generously, they give with a warm heart,” Maple said.
“I don’t know if people know how generous our restaurants are. They give and give and give. We couldn’t do our events without them.”
A listing of the donors can be viewed by visiting hhshelter.org/events-fundraisersthank- you-to-our-soup-donors/.
“This is such an amazing community. It’s a way to give back.”
— Yvon Dockter, a professional potter