It was all very last minute (the phone call at 9:30, sketching in OKC by 11) but I was grateful to be part of the fundraiser for tornado relief last Monday. The twisters that devastated Moore and surrounding communities in May wrecked lives and homes and upended a town that had suffered through the same catastrophe only 14 years before.
For me, taking part in the event was more than a way to help tornado victims. It was a chance to give something back. I’d been there, too.
Rick Bayless, star of PBS’s Mexico: One Plate At A Time, popped up his kitchen under a tent in downtown OKC, running a fragrant cook-a-thon to support his home state in its hour of need. Besides the outdoor event he ran two pop-up restaurants that evening to raise money for the Tornado Relief Regional Food Bank. Both of those events sold out, at a hefty price. All proceeds went to the Relief Fund.
It was a hot, windy day in OKC. Cilantro and roast chili scent wafted through the crowd, along with loose papers and hats. Folks waited in line while musicians played and artists painted. Artwork could be purchased outright or at auction later that evening. I went to work sketching the street scene. Somebody set a plate of tacos in front of me, but before I could taste them, the table blew over (somebody kindly replaced them).
As I said, it was a joy to take part in the fundraiser. My sketches may have even helped a bit: the morning’s watercolors raised $475 for tornado relief that evening at auction. I also want to give a shout-out to fellow artists-in-arms James Smith, a talented Crumb-inspired cartoonist who stayed calm when a strong gust blew his drawings halfway down the street (with dozens of people scrambling to collect them, maybe it was a publicity stunt) and singer-songwriter Carter Sampson, a fabulous Oklahoma songbird you want to check out.
And a big, grateful thank you to Rick Bayless for his time and talent, and his really, really good tacos.