Saturday, August 1, 2015

ART INSPIRED STORIES at Proctor ArtsFest 2015

Welcome to the 2015 Art-Inspired Stories Project!

This year I chose 21 pieces out of the entire show, and this year I wrote for all. Ten of those were presented live this afternoon at the Festival.

My choices were not meant to be qualitative. All the work submitted was lovely and merit-worthy, but I could not possibly organize and write 71 stories in less than 48 hours. So here are some of the criteria I used in making choices when I viewed the exhibit and photographed the artworks to develop.  

I did not choose:
Works whose message was clear - why muck with or restate something that is already strong?
Works whose stories could not be contained to 100 words
Balancing the general themes of the stories (funny, sweet, contemplative, etc) and the various mediums and styles.

I am very pleased with this year’s stories, and I hope that you enjoy them as well.

Pieces Selected for Presentation at 
the Proctor Arts Fest Juried Art Show
Note: All Stories are © 2015 by Judith Cullen
Use of any of the photo images on this page without the express permission 
of the individual artists is strictly prohibited


1948 Ford Woody Station Wagon
By Jens O Pedersen, Three Dimensional

We chatter together, loading the wagon in the morning sunlight.  The paneling is warm against my hand as doors open and close; eager for the seashore. 

Marta hands me the picnic basket. “You’re better at packing the car.” It’s her Mother’s basket, borrowed for today.  Woven slats feel friendly and familiar as I slide them into a little hole between chairs and beach bags.

The sky is blue and the ocean bluer, twinkling, inviting.  The waves shout. Running on hot, tingling sand, my feet restless to feel what my hands know, even through layers of wax: the sentience of wood.

Backyard Band
Susan Strohm, Watercolor

“What are those kids up to?  Norman, go see what those neighbor kids are up to.”

“It’s none of our business, Iris, let them alone.”

“They’re always setting up a ruckus.  They’ve got to learn some manners.”

Norm has fought this battle before.  He knows when to withdraw with honor.

As he peeks over the fence, camouflaged by laurel and rhododendron, he sees a bow, sticks, strings and the glint of brass.  He returns quietly, and sweet sounds usher him into the room where Iris sits, knitting. He smiles, and she looks up in surprise.

“I think its music, Iris.”

Lamplight #2
by Anne Klein, Oil

The air was still, quiet, absorbing the click of their footsteps on the pavement.

Martin examined the grass with indifference.

Lucy watched the streetlamp. Everything transformed from colorless to vibrant the closer it came to the nimbus of light. The air moved there, floating about in a haze of mist and particles.

“What do you think?”

“About what?”

“About us?”

“Us?  We’re okay.”

They stepped closer to the light.

“Maybe more than okay?”


“If you want to, I mean …” his feet and words stumbled together.


Looking up, he saw in the light that she really meant it.

Listen to Our Eyes
by Carolyn Burt, Scratchboard

What do we see? Kids: a variety as wide as the many colors in our art box. Look how alike we are! We have hands to explore, feet to run, and arms that long to embrace. We have differences. They are varied too, and unimportant.

Our eyes speak in one voice, twin lights that silently implore you: we need food, shelter, and safety.  We need to learn, grow, and prosper.  There is so much that we can achieve, so much that we can create.  Please, give us what we need.  Your hate and intolerance? Keep that, we don’t need it.

Peony Explosion
by Margie Sheeley, Oil

You can almost hear the “POP” when they bloom. 

The peonies run riot through the garden, and in their blossoming wake leave petals all over the lawn like joy in dozens of colors.

The peonies are not discrete.  They are large florets, tall stems, and bright colors effervescent in the late spring air.

The peonies proudly announce, “Take us as we are. We are the bold ones, not quiet little posies waiting for your attention.  We join with our sisters, the lilacs, in demanding your notice; pouring spring over your head like a fragrant bucket of cold water. We're here!”

San Francisco 1930
by Denise MacDonald, Colored Pencil

“Hold tightly to my hand, little one.”

“Yes, Bàba”

Small eyes dart, absorbing all the great wealth and promise.

A delicate hand, rounded with youth reaches for a treasure; sleeve stretching, fingers flexing to grasp.

“No, not yet.  Your hands must be your own, kept close to yourself and safe within mine.”

“Yes, Bàba”

Two strong arms lift an excited child up, and two faces of love look to one another.

“There are many who would deny that we exist in this place, this country. Things are changing, little one, but not quite yet.  You must exercise caution.”

“Yes, Bàba”

Spirit of Horsefeathers
by Kim Shuckhart Gunns, Watercolor

The playful one
Am I real or a falsehood?
Trick you if I can

My feathers are bright
A spirit full of mischief
Exclaim if you must

I lurk beneath all
Casting doubt, planting questions
Exploding your ideal

Can you find me out?
Masked behind all the laughter
Sheltered by a grin

Can you determine?
Am I full of all of it?
Or speaking honest?

Two Hearts
by Katy Tuma, Photography

“Don’t laugh! My Gramma said it's a tradition.”

“It just seems silly, I mean, “the fairies”?  Really?

“Yes, this is good luck.  Don’t you think we should have good luck to start with?”

“Fine, what do we do?”

“You, twist those hearts, and I’ll tie these baubles on the ribbon.”

“Okay, how’s this?”

“Tie them together . . . nice bow, . . . there! Hold my hand.  Hang it on the branch; good. Now, say it with me, ‘Good Spirits, please bless our union.’”

“Good Spirits, please bless our union.”

“That’s really nice. I think the fairies will approve.”


Dreaming House
by Benjamin Adams,
Paper & Acrylic Ink on Canvas

What is your dream?  Does it fit in a box?  Can you lay down its borders like a yet to be explored land, liberated by your imagination?

Is your dream in cedar or marble?  Does it have wings and endless stretches of blue sky? Is there tree song in your dream?  Music? Poetry?  The laughter of fellowship?

Take a close look.  Find those dreams from another time, and let them dissolve.  Lovingly tuck in the dreams still cherished, prepared to set them free.  Do not forget to notice the unexpected: those dreams that came true when you weren’t paying attention.


Shared Adventure
by Joyce Webley, Community/Photograph

“It’s easy, come on.”

The girls choose a book from the shelf and settle onto the comfy floor cushions.

“See, it has to have pictures or it doesn’t work.”

“What about the words?”

“There’s plenty of time for the words.  It’s more fun if you do the real story later.”

“Where do we start?”

Three pairs of eyes inspect, turning from illustration to illustration. A finger points in discovery.

“There, a windmill!”

“I like this fence.”

“We have to have a tree.”

“That’s it: three things!”

The book shuts and eyes close.

A voice says, “Once upon a time …”

Other Works from 
the Proctor Arts Fest Juried Art Show
Note: All Stories are © 2015 by Judith Cullen


Arcos del Solana
by Jo Ann Hayden, Acrylic

She watches her feet make shadows on the cool, polished floor.  Still-warm air from the day’s heat floats around her, interrupted by welcome night gusts.  She runs a hand over the plaster wall and marvels how, even in moonlight, hundreds of flecks of color can make coral. There’s another breath of midnight and glossy leaves rustle and dance, revealing the transit of that invisible dancer - the wind.  

He is not here.  He could be, might be.  She imagines what it would be like if he were here; their feet together on the glossy tiles. Her world seems very large.

Lake Union Cruise
by Susan Strohm, Acrylic & Torn Paper

Stepping onto the boat, her little face is alight.  Impossibly small deck shoes are dancing on the end of excited feet.  Her bright eyes follow the swooping paths of gulls, and she breathes in the tangy scent of salt air.  There’s so much to see: colorful boats, exciting sounds, and smells.

“Hold still, while I secure this,” Mom says, as the bulky lifejacket slips on.

It’s uncomfortable, but little one doesn’t care. She is too busy soaking it all in. The boat glides silently. It all looks so different from the water.

She will never to forget this first time.

Land of Enchantment
by Connie Hardy, Photography

Semi-precious skull
Silent commentator he
Observing, absurd

Audacious contrast of hues
That softly whispers

“Texture, color, light
To rough and smooth, warm and cool.
Come to them with me

“Feel the rough surface
Of the enchantment, my friend
The stillness of truth”

Lush Red Spring Poppies
by Doreen Koch Allen, Watercolor

They gather at the corner of my house, in the back where no one sees them but me: a congregation ready to burst forth.  The green buds are filled with an explosion of life, a herald of warmer breezes, longer days, and sunshine. 

When they blossom, it is a celebration in crimson.  They sway in the breeze for attention, reminding me of backyard lunches of tomato sandwiches and lemonade, of books read hour after hour in the shade of the apple tree.

The poppies erupt every year to remind me that all is never lost, and new delights are waiting.

Pink Kitty and Little Bird
by Doreen Koch Allen,
Watercolor & Pastel

“Hello there! What brings you out here, little one, among the frothy ferns and marauding mushrooms?”

“Oh!  I almost didn’t see you there.” The tiny avian head flitters about, estimating the extent of the feline.

“Your tail is the biggest feather I have ever seen.”

“And your tail is the tiniest fur whip I have ever seen.”

The branch trembles with the bird’s unease.

“Perhaps it is imprudent of me to ask, but do you intend to…?”

“Freedom is always one flap away.”

“It seems impolite, now that we have been introduced and all.”

“I’m too tired to hunt, anyway.”

Southwest Pronghorns
By Cheryl C. Gunderson,
by Carved & Acrylic on Gourd

A rattle from the heart of antiquity sounds to the rhythm of fleet hooves.  The staccato beats of adults accompanied by the skittering of a calf.

Their family tattoo rises up from the Sonoran soil like a shooting star, curving high overhead to dive down again, buried in the granitite mountains.
“Before concrete and car horns, before bungalows and barriers we roamed freely in the yesterdays of 20 million years ago.  We have survived floods and famine.  You contain us now and say you protect us, but we endure because we must. What can you accomplish to say the same?”

by Roxanna Gilland-Rothe,
Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas

Three birds sit among the falling jewels of amber and gold.

The emerald guards the east, alert for old ideas masquerading as complacency.  He is prepared to call their bluff and challenge their laziness.

The sapphire observes the west with a casual eye, no less attentive than her brother, watching keenly for new ideas whose singular purpose is being new.  She is ready to test their relevance.

Sky Blue Guardian responds to the north, warding against the cool chill of indecision.  The song of Sky Blue is to action.

Whose vigil is south?  That is your place in this picture.


Bud Cycle
by Andrea Erickson, Sumi Ink

Tight at the beginning, oh so tightly closed to protect delicate growing.  The stems reach for the sky, anticipating the climactic moment when the waltz of blooming will commence. 

The music of the wind through the leaves plays gentle accompaniment as it begins to relax, opening its focus to the much-awaited moment – the beginning of the ending.

Finally, a release of creation as petals wave, gesturing an expression of sunlight and delight; an ecstatic, luminous whirl.

It all happens so slowly, the dance from bud to bloom.  Minute steps in an elaborate, continuing ballet of nurture, culmination, decay, and rebirth.

Silent Snowfall
by Jeanne Strohrmann, Oil

It’s so quiet when the world puts on its blanket of white.  Becky tucks herself under the mountain of her own covers, and gleefully watches the extra bright winter world waiting outside her window.

Becky knows what this means, and all of the things that come with snow that she loves. The rules of rare days of snow are different from any other.  There will be boots and layers of clothing.  There will be pink, cold noses and shrieks of laughter. For lunch, toasted cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, with many cups of cocoa.

It will be a great day.


by Frances Tanner, Watercolor

People rarely look up in the woods, and when they look down it is usually in contemplation. Wealth might be waiting: hidden in the loamy shade, small gems of red, yellow and pink.  One of the good folk might be peeking out from underneath those jewel-like caps.  What is that he’s muttering?

“Careful, careful trod the path,
Hurt what’s here and feel my wrath.
Not all treasure is for thee,
Mind the way most cautiously.

“Tripping merrily can be fun,
But poison means no more be done.
Know you way to visions clear
Left as was when you came here.”

Night News
by Jan Fisher, Collage

“Bleee-deee-dee-deeep, this now in . . . top story . . . breaking news.”

Evelyn watches the news parading in a nightly pageant of grand mayhem.  Like billboards one after another, the stories shout loudly of combustible issues: murder, theft, deceit, insanity, bravado.  Oh look!  There’s the human interest story.  Now she has: heroism, courage, integrity, honor, loyalty. One placard after another with big messages writ epically on them.

She turns to Henry, beside her for over fifty years, to ask him what he thinks.  Henry is snoring.

She turns back to the screen, the remote in her hand.  Click.


Hope you enjoyed this year's collection.  If you are new to this project, you might enjoy last year's collection - Click Here

A smattering of people ask me "How do you do it?" If you are wondering that as well, check out this playful and somewhat informative photo essay - Click Here

My continued thank to the great folks at the Juried Art Show and at Proctor Arts Fest for supporting this project.  My gratitude to Rachel and James Johnson for making it all happen so cheerfully, and to Gene Kester who dared to do a little dreaming with me in 2013, and crafted this idea.  Thank you, kind Sir!

No comments:

Post a Comment