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« Thin Lines, But Not On a Suspension Bridge An Evening with Mandy Patinkin & Patti Lupone @ Cadillac Palace Theater »

Art Tue Mar 02 2010

Empty Bowls At Lillstreet Art Center: A Tour

Wheelthrowing at Lillstreet_high res.jpg

Wheelthrowing at Lillstreet Art Center

On March 5, Lillstreet Art Center will be hosting Empty Bowls at their Ravenswood headquarters to fight hunger. Artists are making hundreds of ceramic bowls, which will be sold for 20 dollars a piece and put to use at Friday's event. Proceeds will benefit hunger-fighting organization First Slice Cafe, housed on Lillstreet's first floor. Jane Hanna, Director of Marketing and Communications, took some time from preparing for this event to take me on an energetic, in-depth tour of Lillstreet.

We began in First Slice, the community-supported organic-friendly cafe, led by Chef Mary Ellen Diaz, that will provide the soup for the event. Along with First Slice, Soup and Bread, The Hideout's weekly get-together that benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository, is also a collaborator.

As Ms. Hanna and I walked down the long hallway she explained that Lillstreet was
founded 35 years ago by then clay salesman, Bruce Robbins. While offering an extensive range of classes in practically every media, it still maintains its ceramic-focused attitude instilled by Robbins' background. The ceramics room was bustling with people who each smile when we entered. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the open studio time that comes with taking classes. "We make our clay so you don't have to go racing all around town to get your supplies," Hanna said, "and prices are as cheap as we can manage...and we're dog friendly," She said with laughter as an attention seeking dog wandered over.

As we walked past the glazing area, Hanna made sure to point out that a student generously volunteered their time to test fire every combination of glaze and display the options on the wall, adding, "Anyone that knows a little bit about ceramics starts to drool when they see all the combinations we have a available." We scooted out of the way of a woman dashing back and forth with bowls. "Lots of folks are busy making bowls for Empty Bowls right now," Hanna said while petting the dog.

After checking out the kilns, the artist's studios, and the artists in residency I was in a whirlwind when we returned to the first floor to see the kid's classrooms where Empty Bowls will take place. Last year, over 500 bowls were sold and many veteran attendees have become hip to the fact that if they show up early they might nab some bowls by famous potters. Along with soup, handmade bowls and good company, there will be live music and a silent auction.

Our last stop was at the cart where artists were depositing donations. The kiln was roaring, almost ready to provide another big batch and there were about 100 pieces on the cart already. Bowl donations usually pour in at the last minute but the line for soup starts early.

Lillstreet Art Center is located at 4401 N. Ravenswood. Empty Bowls is on March 5 from 5-8pm.

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Tobias Ecosystem / March 3, 2010 12:11 PM

All tours depart from the Art Deco Welcome Center. Tobias Ecosystem

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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