Friends of two long-time members of the local performing and visual arts community are turning to music and art to help the family through a particularly rough patch. Her friends say Pamela Patton, who owned and operated a pottery studio in downtown Cookeville from 1999 to 2007, is gravely ill, and since she’s too sick to work, she can’t afford private health insurance. When friends realized how bad the situation was, they got together to organize a benefit to raise money for the Pattons to help them pay medical expenses. It’ll be an evening of music, art and food beginning at 5 pm, Friday, Nov. 19, at the Willow Place Conference Center in Cookeville. Tickets are $5 and available at the door. Admission pays for an Italian-style dinner and several hours of live music headlined by the Chillbillies, a roots-country, blues and rock band fronted by Larry Patton. Other entertainers include local favorite Larry Newgent and Jamey and Tamara Whiting.
The core of the evening, however, will be a silent auction of art. Unsurprisingly, the offerings are dominated by pottery, much of it made by the students from Pamela Patton’s studio, The Potter’s Wheel. Located in the Cream City Building on the West Side, The Potter’s Wheel blended community service with art instruction. Barely six months after opening, Pamela and her students began what became a seven-year commitment to contribute bowls to Cooking on the Square, Putnam County Habitat for Humanity’s signature fund-raising event.
“In those early days, it was impossible to find enough bowls to make Cooking on the Square a success,” says the event’s co-founder, John Clemons. “If it hadn’t been for The Potter’s Wheel and the Appalachian Center for Craft, the way we envisioned Cooking on the Square would never have been happened.”
Over the life of the studio, Patton and her students threw an estimated 7,000 bowls for Putnam County Habitat -- and they did it in exchange for a lot of self-satisfaction.
“That studio was all about cultivating creativity – to call people to do what they had in them, and that includes doing the right thing,” says Patton. “I always felt like that was one of the reasons we were there – to create more potters to support Habitat.
“I’ve had time to reflect, being in this position,” she says. “I’ve never believed in my heart that anyone on this planet wants something for nothing. It was easy for us to help turn bowls into bricks for people’s houses, to help people, to understand that it’s not their fault that they can’t afford a house. I’ve always had plenty to offer. But being sick like this, it shows me that we’re all actually so fragile. It’s a great blessing for your friends to help you. It’s a different experience to be on the other side of giving, on the other side of this kindness and selflessness.”
Donations for the Pattons are also being collected by the staff of Community Bank; contributions can be delivered to the branch located at 744 S. Willow Ave. No reservations are required for the Nov. 19 benefit, but advance tickets can be purchased by calling 252-0828 or visiting Jon Beasley Salon / Antiques and Interior Design at 52 W. Broad St. The Willow Avenue Conference Center is located at 255 N. Willow Ave., across from Wendy’s.