By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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TO LEARN MORE about the Peninsula Empty Bowls Project, a community art effort and fundraiser for the Sequim Food Bank, visit http://peninsulaemptybowlsproject.blogspot.com or The Blooming Brush at 134 ½ W. Washington St., Sequim. The Blooming Brush can be reached at 360-681-2319 by phone or at firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.
The Sequim Food Bank welcomes donations and distributes food from 9 a.m. to noon Friday and Monday at 144 W. Alder St.
For information, phone 360-683-1205.
The Peninsula Empty Bowls Project, an idea that's been around the world, is poised to make its local debut during the downtown Sequim Merchants Fair on Saturday.
A cluster of local artists and business people are inviting community members to the fair to shop, of course, but also to pick out a plain bowl, paint and otherwise decorate it and take it home. Payment is a $20 donation to the Sequim Food Bank.
The point, explained organizer Karin Anderson, is to make a connection between well-fed households and those where people's bowls are often empty.
Such homes aren't far away if one considers the numbers at Sequim's pantry for hungry families.
In January, for example, the Sequim Food Bank fed 500 households, including 800 adults and 500 children, volunteer Stephen Rosales said Thursday.
"That's 58 new families compared with last year," he added.
While a prodigious amount of food is donated every month, the food bank must buy most of the chicken, milk, margarine and eggs that it provides to clients every Monday and Friday morning.
Rosales said he pays $6,000 to $9,000 monthly for the fresh products -- and that money comes directly from community donations.
A couple of blocks away from the Sequim Food Bank is the Blue Whole Gallery, 129 W. Washington St., an artists' cooperative that was "looking for a community project," said member Rudy Bauer.
Bauer and fellow members learned of Empty Bowls, an effort that's been replicated internationally since 1990, when a Michigan high school art teacher organized a class project.
His students fashioned pottery bowls for a soup supper, invited the community and poured the proceeds into the local food pantry.
Those who came to the dinner took home their bowls as reminders that many of their neighbors -- in their hometown, home state and across the globe -- have bowls that are too often empty.
Bauer, along with Renne Brock-Richmond of the Sequim Humanities and Arts Alliance, met with Heather Boyd, owner of The Blooming Brush, a paint-your-own-pottery studio in downtown Sequim.
With that, Peninsula Empty Bowls was born.
A fundraising soup supper is about a year away, Anderson said, since the organizers want to accumulate a large number of bowls.
Just a few stacks, painted by local artists, are at The Blooming Brush now; the hope is that some who join the project will leave their bowls for the supper in 2010.
In the meantime, "we're hoping everyone in the community can find some way to participate, as a volunteer, by making a bowl or donating a bowl," said Sequim artist and Empty Bowls organizer Pam Erickson.
On Saturday during the Merchants Fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the curious can stop by The Blooming Brush, 134 ½ W. Washington St. behind Jim Carl Insurance and Doodlebugs, to find out more.
And Boyd, who usually doesn't open her shop on Sunday, will be in this Sunday to talk bowls between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Irrigation Festival Arts & Crafts Fair, both days on West Cedar Street, also will have a banner calling attention to the project.
A number of prominent local artists, such as Brock-Richmond and Sequim Community School art teacher Martha Rudersdorf, are planning bowl-making and -glazing events for later this year.
Boyd wants to host painting parties at The Blooming Brush. And though all of this is starting in Sequim, the organizers hope it doesn't stay only there.
"Our goal is to enthuse other groups to join us," Brock-Richmond said, "and get everyone excited about expressing themselves and supporting the community at the same time."
Sequim-Dungeness Valley reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladaily news.com.