WSW’s Chili Bowl Fiesta this Saturday at Rosendale Rec Center

WSW Chili Bowl intern Allora McCullough in action

WSW Chili Bowl intern Allora McCullough in action

Each of the handcrafted ceramic bowls at the 19th annual Chili Bowl Fiesta on Saturday, February 27 will be unique: a one-of-a-kind addition to any collection of pottery. Not only that, its purchase includes a helping of hot and savory chili donated by local eateries to enjoy while visiting with friends and listening to live music by Dog on Fleas, the family-friendly band who have played for the event so many times over the years that they’ve become an integral part of it.

The fundraiser supports the programs of the Women’s Studio Workshop of Binnewater Lane in Rosendale. The Chili Bowl Fiesta will take place at the Rosendale Community Center, located at 1055 Route 32 North in Rosendale. Admission costs $5 from 2 to 4 p.m., when the best selection of handmade ceramics will be available. Admission is free from 4 to 7 p.m., which is when the live music happens. The chili is available while it lasts, either served up in one’s newly acquired ceramic bowl or purchased at nominal cost in paper bowls. Cornbread and toppings are included in either case.

Prices start at $10 for a small bowl or one with a simple design. Larger, more elaborately decorated pieces or ones made by professional artists can cost upwards of $50, but much of the selection falls somewhere in the middle of that range. Repeat visitors to the Chili Bowl Fiesta know that competition for the bowls is fierce; people come year after year to expand their own collections and purchase gifts. Expect to see lines out the door of people waiting to get in at the event’s start, who, once inside, will circle the tables and literally fill their arms with stacks of bowls. (In other words, if you see one that you like, don’t wait; get it.) The artistic styles and designs used on the ceramics run the gamut from sweet to sophisticated, literal to abstract, folksy to Zenlike.

Women’s Studio Workshop (WSW) expects to have some 900 bowls completed for this year’s event. Most of the stock sells out by evening. Many of the pieces are created in Wednesday-night sessions where staff, interns and volunteers – both novices and professional artists – get together for a potluck supper and then make the bowls for the fundraiser. “It’s a group of really dedicated volunteers that comes out all year,” says Ruth McKinney Burket, ceramics studio manager for the organization. “A lot of them come out every week; they call me when they’re not going to make it.”

Two hundred of the bowls for this year’s event were created by four artists-in-residence – Sarah Blackwell, Mari Ogihara, Sarah Newberry and Rachel Dubicki. “These are artists highly skilled in ceramics,” says Burket, “so I’m really excited about the quality of the work. We also have a number of artists-in-residence who are printmakers and painters. One of those women, Laura Manfredi, is a printmaker from Italy who has been here for about six weeks and keeps joining us in the basement ceramic studio to decorate more bowls. It’s been fun seeing her explore the ceramic surface during her time here. It’s her first time doing anything in ceramics, but she has become enthralled by the process and enjoys the energy in the studio.”

And then there are bowls created by relative newbies to the ceramic arts who seem to have found their niche. “Karin Smith Spanier has been taking classes with us for about a year-and-a-half and has decorated a large number of bowls,” says Burket. “Her surfaces have developed such that I’m intrigued and amazed with what she can do. I’ve been doing this for ten years, and I see her work and I’m not sure how she is doing it! Complex, layers of detail…they’re beautiful. Every year I think, ‘It can’t be this good next year,’ and then every year it’s even better than the year before.”

The Chili Bowl Fiesta has a new sponsor this year: the Bailey Ceramic Supply of Kingston. “They donated 600 pounds of earthenware, porcelain and stoneware clay, which is enough to make at least half of the bowls this year,” says Burket. “That really helps with the fundraising.” Chili was donated by Bacchus Restaurant, Bridge Creek Catering, the Bywater Bistro, Café Mio, Davenport Farms, Fleisher’s Craft Butchery, the High Falls Café, Karma Road, Main Course Catering, the Main Street Bistro, McGillicuddy’s, Market Market Café, the Mohonk Mountain House, Mother Earth’s Storehouse, the Mountain Brauhaus, the Red Brick Tavern, P & G’s Restaurant, Boitson’s Restaurant and the Rosendale Café. Cornbread was donated by the Alternative Baker, the Bakery, the Blue Mountain Bistro To-Go, Davenport Farms, Emmanuel’s Marketplace, the High Falls Food Co-op, the High Falls Kitchenette and the New Paltz Stop & Shop.


Women’s Studio Workshop Chili Bowl Fiesta fundraiser, Saturday, February 27, 2-7 p.m., $5 2-4 p.m., free 4-7 p.m., Rosendale Community Center, 1055 Route 32, Rosendale; (845) 658-9133,

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