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Artist helps Empty Bowl fundraiser take shape

Annual Hospitality House event set for March 17


Tom Durkin

Nevada City Advocate 

“I threw a lot of clay this year,” Yvon Dockter of Nevada City noted with a weary grin. 

Dockter is one of the most prolific ceramic artists who donate yearly hand-crafted soup bowls to the Empty Bowl fundraiser for the Hospitality House homeless shelter (aka Utah’s Place).

Over the years, Dockter has thrown hundreds and hundreds of bowls – but she hasn’t decorated them all.

About eight years ago, she converted her living room into an ad hoc art studio and invited her artist friends to come over and paint her bare clay bowls.

Dockter has since moved her bowl-painting gatherings to the Curious Forge.

This year, she has had several work parties at the Forge involving 18 different artists whose talents ranged from amateurs to professionals. Dockter cheerfully mentors the less confident artists.

Dockter worked with three first-timers and one acrylic artist who was adapting her skills to ceramics.

Joan and Guy (who is a monitor at Hospitality House) Tortorici of Grass Valley both said they were relying on what they learned in high school ceramics to decorate their bowls.

Jessica Cymbalski of Grass Valley revealed she was new to the Curious Forge and was just beginning to “dabble in clay.”

Acrylic artist Liz Conley, visiting from out of town, said this was her second year of painting bowls with Dockter for the Empty Bowl.

“She’s taught me so much,” Conley said of Dockter.

The 12th annual Empty Bowl event will be held Saturday, March 17, at the Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley. For $25, guests get to choose a unique, hand-crafted bowl to take home after they’ve enjoyed a community meal of gourmet soup and bread. 

For more information, visit hhshelter.org or call 530-615-0852.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada County. Contact him at tdurkin@vfr.net or www.tomdurkin-writer.net.

About the Photo:    

Yvon Dockter (left) paints her bowl as Liz Conley (center) and Jessica Cymbalski work on decorating bare clay bowls that Dockter made for the Empty Bowl fundraiser for the Hospitality House homeless shelter.

Photo by Tom Durkin