After five months of coordinating the making of more than 1,400 handmade pottery bowls – made mostly by the untrained yet very enthusiastic general public – Hub City Empty Bowls is ready to serve soup and raise money on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, 11am to 7:30pm.
“Soup Day is upon us, and I think we are ready,” Nancy Williamson, the project’s co-coordinator, said. “We have the bowls, we have the soup, we have the music, and we have the need. Now all we need is for the people to come out on Saturday, Nov. 9, to Chapman Cultural Center and enjoy the experience of eating gourmet soup, fellowship, and the moral reward of knowing that for $15 many of the needy, poor and hungry citizens of our community will have their next meal.”
All of the money raised at this annual event will go to TOTAL Ministries, a local charity that provides food to the community’s most impoverished citizens. Last year, Empty Bowls raised more than $12,000 for the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen.
Empty Bowls is a national social phenomenon where the potters in individual communities spearhead an effort to raise money for a local charity whose mission is to feed the hungry. With no oversight and little overhead, Carolina Clay Artists, an organization of local potters, organizes the event and coordinates several bowl-making sessions for the general public. Most of the bowls were made at the Spartanburg Art Museum School at Chapman Cultural Center and at West Main Artists Co-op, shaped by hand, rather than thrown on a wheel. The potters instruct the citizens on how to make the bowls, and the clay is provided at no charge. During the months of preparation, the bowls are painted and glazed.
In addition, professional potters, Carolina Clay Artists members, and Spartanburg Art Museum students and teachers have donated soup bowls for the event. Spartanburg School District 7 has donated bowls that were made from start to finished bowls by their teachers, Spartanburg High pottery students, and Jessie Boyd’s Art Club. Interspersed in the offering of very basic bowls the public can find some treasures. “There’s the feeling of a treasure hunt to the event,” Williamson said. “People look for special bowls, some made by professionals and some made by little children.”
On Soup Day, all of the colorful and various size bowls are brought out. For a $15 donation, a citizen can pick out his or her favorite bowl and have it filled with the soup of his choice. This year, there are about 20 restaurants providing soup. In addition, bread and iced tea will be provided. There will be an ongoing silent auction in the midst of the bowls and soup. “Soup Day is the most amazing experience,” Williamson said. “It is always one of those feel-good experiences. You have such a grassroots atmosphere of handmade bowls, top-quality soup, live music, and the fellowship of kindred souls all coming together to make Spartanburg a better place to live.”
“I’ve bought several bowls over the years,” supporter Steve Wong said. “Soup Day is great fun, but for me the best part is getting to keep the bowl. It never fails that when I go to my kitchen cabinet for a bowl, I always choose one from Empty Bowls. It just means something special. It’s a reminder of how lucky I am to have food to put in my bowl.”
In addition to the bowls, soup, and live music, a new element is being introduced to the Hub City Empty Bowl experience: drum circles. There will be two drum circles: one starts at 11am; the other starts at 5pm. Both will happen outdoors in the Chapman Cultural Center plaza. The public is invited to join the communal drum circles by bringing whatever percussion instrument available and adding sound to the rhythms that will be lead by experienced drum circle enthusiasts.
“We think having drum circles will be a great new thing for Soup Day,” Williamson said. “It seems like a natural pairing, both being so basic and in touch with nature. I kind of think of the drums as calling people to come join in.”
It is by the very nature of the Empty Bowls phenomenon that the bowl making, Soup Day, and fundraising are accomplished by many people working together for a common cause. “So much credit must be given to Carolina Clay Artists,” Williamson said. “They are the heart and soul of this project and Empty Bowls in Spartanburg would not happen without them. They secure the clay, the locations, the instruction: They basically do all of the heavy lifting and spend their weekends glazing, painting, washing and just doing whatever needs to be done. Others who need to be recognized are Spartanburg Art Museum’s Art School, Chapman Cultural Center, West Main Artist Co-op, and donors Chris Williams of Clay-King and Steve and Joanne Metcalf.”
Live music by…
• 11am – The Lovely Jodie
• noon – Fayssoux
• 1pm – Rich Nelson and the acoustic trio “176”
• 2pm – Anna V
• 3pm – The Windjammers
• 4pm – Frank Walker
• 5pm – Mark Miller
• 6pm – Matthew Knights
Soup & Other Food Provided by…
Backporch, Basil’s Grille, Billy D’s, Blue Moon Catering, Chef Bill McClellan, SCC, Cribb’s Kitchen, Cuzina’s, Farmer’s Table, Garner’s, Gerhards, Holden’s Ranch, Ice Cream/Coffee Beans, LaTravena, Lime Leaf, Mon Amie, Movable Feasts & Spartanburg ARP Youth, Palmetto Palate, Terrace at Spartanburg Marriott, and Wild Aces.
Beverages and Bread…
Beacon Drive-In, Cakehead Bakery, Little River Roasting, Dutch Plate, Jimmy John’s, Longhorn, and Wade’s Southern Cooking.
For more information, please call Nancy Williamson at 864/621-2768.