PHS ‘Chili Bowl Cook-off’: Food for artists

By William P. Thompson: PNT Staff Writer

The taste forecast is mild to hot for Friday’s Chili Bowl Cook-off inside the Portales High School cafeteria. Ten entrants will bring pots of chili to compete for the best, the hottest and the mildest chili at the competition, and the $5 admission fee will net guests a handmade clay chili bowl and the chance to taste all the varieties of chili.

It’s all for the sake of art, as the proceeds will go to buy art supplies for PHS art students.

Lou Sikes, the students’ art teacher, said last year’s cook-off raised about $1,200.

“We spent $800 on an electric potter’s wheel and another kick wheel,” Sikes said. “The money also paid for our glazes and clay.”

Sikes said the visual arts just don’t get the same amount of financial support as the performing arts.

“The visual arts need a lot of support,” she said. “The visual arts students work quietly. We have some students who couldn’t afford their $15 lab fee. We have to come up with some way for more funding.”

Students in Sikes’ clay classes are making the handmade bowls to sell at the cook-off. Sophomore Michael Hatch has made 25 bowls. Each of the students’ bowls bear the unique touch of the student who made it and each bowl is uniquely hand-painted.

“It took about a month to get the hang of it (the potter’s wheel),” Hatch said. “It takes patience and doing it a lot. I heard about this class from other people who had taken it and liked it.”

Sikes said Hatch has developed a knack at “throwing pots,” the term potters use to describe the turning of clay on a wheel and giving it form.

“Some kids don’t get the knack, but it’s probably from lack of persistence,” Sikes said. “Michael couldn’t do it at first but he kept trying until he could do it.”

Guests will mark the backs of their admission tickets in rating the chili and they can pick their own handmade chili bowl to take home. Chances will be sold at the event for a hand-crafted goblet and a large vase.

Sikes said parents shouldn’t be alarmed if their children want to pursue a career in the fine arts.

“Graphic arts is one of the fastest growing occupations,” Sikes said. “Interior design and fashion design are also big. For all of those you need to know how to draw. I talked to graphic arts professors at Eastern New Mexico University and I asked them what they wanted me to teach my students. They said they wanted me to teach them how to draw.”

Sikes said some of her former students have gone on to lucrative careers in the art world.

The chili cook-off begins at 5 p.m. Friday in the PHS cafeteria. Sikes said other examples of students’ art work will be displayed at the cook-off and a complete student art show will take place in the cafeteria at 1 p.m. Sunday.