Local artisans raise the roof for a good cause

Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002

Kaladi Brothers Coffee in Soldotna combined its need to redecorate with the creativity of its customers to come up with an inventive and artistic way to raise money for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

For $25, anyone interested could have purchased a white ceiling tile to paint and hang on the coffee shop's ceiling.

"We had these old black ceiling tiles and we were talking about how we'd like to replace them," said Amy Warfle, Kaladi Brothers employee and team leader for the fund-raiser. "We though it would be cool to sell them as space. We were looking for a creative way to participate in the Relay for Life. This year we decided to try something different, and it's really working out cool."

The fund-raiser began in mid-March, Warfle said, and the 60 regular-sized tiles sold out within a few weeks. When those sold the store put irregularly-sized tiles and tiles with lights and utilities through them up for sale. Those have been sold by now as well.

The tiles were donated by the Kaladi Brothers Coffee Company and Spenard Builder's Supply, so all of the $25 will go to the Relay for Life.

The fund-raiser drew all kinds of participants, from families to school classes, established artists and general community members who wanted to be involved.


A tile decorated by a Sears Elementary School class.

"I like to know that the money is going to a good cause, and I think this is definitely a good cause," said Emily Steele-Grossman of Soldotna, who participated in the fund-raiser. "It's a good way for people not wanting to walk or run to still support the Relay."

Kaladi Brothers put a few restrictions on what would be accepted -- like no nudity, profanity or advertisements. Other than that, artists had free rein to decorate their tiles as they wished.

Some came back with pictures of actual subjects, like fish. Others were decorated in various colors, patterns and designs. One of the first tiles to be hung was a take-off on Michelangelo's famous "The Creation of Adam" painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. In this version, God is reaching out to Adam with a Kaladi Brothers Coffee cup in his hand.

Grossman's painting was a variation of this theme. She painted a take-off on Leonardo's "The Last Supper," where Jesus and the 12 apostles are in their famous pose drinking from Kaladi Brothers cups.

"I hang out at the coffee shop a lot and get a lot of ideas," Grossman said. "Including coffee ideas into art seemed to be a fun idea."

She originally wanted to do "The Creation of Adam," she said, but was beaten to the punch by another artist.


A tile painted by the Pietro family.

"My next line of thinking was 'The Last Supper' because they all look like they're hanging out drinking coffee." she said.

So far, 14 tiles have been brought in and hung. There is no set deadline to return the tiles, Warfle said, because organizers didn't want the fund-raiser to be stressful for participants. But spots to hang the tiles go on a first-come, first-served basis, so the sooner a tile is returned the better chance it has of being hung in a choice location.

"Everyone thinks this is a really good idea," Grossman said. "For one, it lets people be creative. And, two, you get to put something in a place that stays there permanently. It's a little lasting signature you can leave on the town. And to be able to do that and have fun and give money to the relay is a really good idea."

The fund-raiser earned more than $1,500, Warfle said. Although no tiles remain to be purchased, donations are still being taken for the Relay for Life.

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