Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

The Doug House: You'll be bowled over by my artwork

My basset-hound creation could soon be yours

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Like Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol and Michelangelo, I have developed a reliable system for creating artistic masterpieces.

So when the nice folks at Winnipeg Harvest invited me to decorate a bowl to be raffled off at their fourth annual Empty Bowls Soup-er Lunch on Nov. 6, I tackled the project via the following two-step method:

Step 1: Find someone with a lot of artistic talent.

Step 2: Persuade them to make the bowl for me.

The first step was a piece of cake, because in situations like this I always turn to my good friend and renowned Winnipeg sculptor, Jordan Van Sewell.

As for the second step, when I arrived at Jordan's Wonderland-like home studio in South Point Douglas, the wizard-bearded artist threw me a curveball -- he said I should try to do most of the work myself.

The thing is, this year I wanted to do more than just paint and autograph a pre-made ceramic bowl; I wanted to literally make a bowl from the ground up.

Get ready to dab your eyes with a tissue, because my plan was to create a heart-tugging bowl in the likeness of my beloved basset hound, Cooper, who passed away earlier this year.

You are going to be shocked to hear this, but when I showed up at Jordan's place, he handed me a big slab of clay and told me what to do with it, if you catch my drift.

The first thing he made me do was wrap the clay around a glass-ball mould to attain the perfect bowl-like shape. Here's the first helpful art tip Jordan gave me: "Don't whack it! It's glass."

Next, after taking a well-deserved lunch break, I had to pound out assorted dog-like appendages to attach to the bowl. I did this by asking Jordan probing questions like: "How do you make a dog's leg?"

In the blink of an eye, Jordan would roll out a realistic-looking dog leg, which I would then snatch out of his hands and slap onto my bowl. The exciting thing is, the main artistic components of the bowl -- the basset hound's droopy head, floppy ears and devil-like tail -- I made almost entirely on my own.

Once it was painted and glazed, Jordan declared the bowl was a borderline masterpiece, much like the Sistine Chapel, but with floppier ears and more drool. "We're going to have to size you up for a black beret," is the compliment he gave me.

Joining us in this complex artistic process was our buddy, the comedian Big Daddy Tazz, who made a soup bowl that features a spoon-toting superhero with a flowing cape and the letter "W" emblazoned on his chest.

"It's like the Winnipeg Harvest Super Guy," Tazz explained. "It's a Super Bowl for a Soup-er Bowl lunch. It symbolizes the fact we can all be superheroes by giving a little bit of our hard-earned money to help people in need -- every month of the year, not just at Christmas."

What you need to know is our heart-felt creations will be among 36 unique bowls raffled off Nov. 6 at the food bank's fundraising lunch, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at ice level in the MTS Centre.

Chantel Mierau, Harvest's administrative assistant for fundraising and development, said the food bank is hoping at least 1,500 people descend on the MTS Centre next Wednesday to feast on five tasty soups -- the new one is pulled-pork chili -- and try to win works of art whipped up by a who's who of celebrities.

(Tickets are $10 at the door, or call Harvest at 204-982-3672. You get 20 raffle tickets for $10, with all the cash going to help fight hunger. You can also win swell prizes, like a $500 travel voucher from VIA Rail.)

"Not everyone in the city has access to food," Chantel told me Thursday.

Rest assured Tazz and I put our heart into our bowls so you'd be able to put soup in them. This year's bowl-making celebrities include: fitness guru Jillian Michaels, legendary rocker Rick Springfield; Canadian TV stars the Trailer Park Boys; East Coast folk-rock legends Great Big Sea; comedian Rob Schneider; the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; and music icon and social activist Buffy Sainte-Marie, to name just a few.

The main point is, with a little help from my mentor, Jordan, I created an inspiring floppy-eared bowl, so I want everyone within the sound of my voice to join us for lunch and try to win it.

Because, artistically speaking, it's a real dog.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 1, 2013 A2

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