Sunday, August 7, 2016

PROCTOR ARTSFEST 2016 - Art Inspired Stories

Juried Art Show 2016
 Art-Inspired Stories Project 

This is the 20th Anniversary year of Proctor Arts Fest. This year's Juried Art Show and Art Inspired Stories Project are dedicated to the man who worked quietly behind the scenes for two decades, and whose vision of the arts in the Proctor District are reflected in the vibrancy of this annual celebration. 

  Thank you Gene Kester for your stewardship, your dedication, and your vision.

One Man's Garden
by Judith Cullen

To Gene Kester

The wise gardener knows the richness of inspired soil,
when to quench the eager thirsts of growth,
when to submit to the invigorating touch of the sun.

He toils compassionately among his rows, planting, tending,
a gentle influence over decades of potentialities.
The warm touch and twinkling presence is ever patient.

The vibrant mind, full of constant imaginative ideas,
always sees the garden in its fullest, most vibrant splendor
despite the cycling realities of decay and winter's rest.

His spade and trowel work on: encouraging, persuading,
gently assessing that which would remain in the safety of seed,
and seeks out just the right spot to plant for prosperity.

This man's garden shall never be fallow, fade or wither,
remaining a testament to one soul's stewardship and scope:
vivid color, dynamic shape reflecting the ardor of his vision

For he has planted to a design which conforms to the eternal,
and cherished it with the blessing of every God-given gift
that one hand, and one heart can hold in everlastingness.


Pieces Selected for Presentation
Note: All Stories are © 2016 by Judith Cullen
Use of any of the photo images on this page without the express permission
of the individual artists is strictly prohibited


Aunt Ruthie
Image copyrighted by the Artist 
by Janette Stiles, Graphite on Paper

Is this really her?  The undulating gleam of calculated waves.  The precise manicure and intense perfection of rouge and liner.  Determined lips reflect a polished, fell sensuality belying the softness of fur.

I question what I remember - what I choose to remember: impossibly good cookies whose recipe was never revealed, dizzy songs sung in the car that can never be forgotten, secret assaults on household furnishings that I was sworn never to disclose to my Mother.

That is the aunt I remember. That is the complex formula of imperfections that branded me with its eternal acceptance, and unquestioned love.

Fried Chicken
Image copyrighted by the Artist 
by Liza Morado, Acrylic

"Hey!  Who you callin' chicken?"

Cockerel bravado bursts forth, heating the immediate vicinity.  Heads raise, turn, look.  They didn't realize he was there, strutting like he owned the place with just a hint of a stagger.  Just as quickly the social temperature recedes back to grumbling anonymity.

Awkwardly negotiating the stool, he finally perches and wiggles into balance.  He doesn't seem to notice the appraising glances.  He doesn't really care.  Its clear this is not his first one this evening. He emphatically slaps one wing on the bar.

"Gimme another one, barkeep.  It's been a tough night at the henhouse."

by Joseph Reder, Photography
Image copyrighted by the Artist
Wash, rinse thoroughly, and wipe dry -  movements automatic.  Now, return to its regimented line, or onto the hanging rack.  No thoughts are expended as his arm extends and slides the stem home.

They speak to him more profoundly than the three-pieces playing in the corner, or the relentless murmur of customers.  That all fades into the background.  He focuses on the people before him, alert to their requests and custodian of their privacy. 

He hears the subtle symphony of clinks as one surface passes another close enough to make music - serenaded by the song of pristine, clean glass.

Making Bouquets
by Sue Stewart, Watercolor
Image copyrighted by the Artist
It is funny how she always hears her mother.  She mutters the litany of that long-past voice of teaching: "Color matters, my child.  Yellow and orange for happy, red and purple for passion, and white to lighten the burdens of the heart."

Hands, rough as those old-time fingers, touch each stem in rapid succession, "and this for height, and that to frame it."  She ties each bundle securely, letting the bands snap as she holds her composition to attention. 

Every bouquet is slightly different, but she hardly notices.  She remains flushed with hues, petals, and the comforting voice of love.

Netting on The Puyallup
by Cheryl G. Gunderson, Dremel Design on Gourd
Image copyrighted by the Artist
Why wouldn't they want to capture it? The spirit of wisdom and inner knowing is a much desired property; swimming around and around, as it does, just out of conscious reach.

Cast your nets and try your luck.  You would not be the first.  Fionn Mac Cumhaill tasted its dubious blessings in another mythos.  Raven cast his nets, but found its possession did not suit his attention span.

Is intuition really something you can scarf down with a little lemon juice? Or do you just have to stop, listen to the discernment of the river, reach out, and touch eternity.

Seashells @ the Seashore
by Karen St Claire, Watercolor
Image copyrighted by the Artist
Voices of the ocean:
fresh faces, distant shores
chattering with tales
of forgotten worlds
and perpetual journeys.

Swapping shop talk
of occidental waters
and oriental sands,
of once sharp edges
now dulled from distance.

The chorus nestles, shimmers
comparing notes,
beach-hosted in their
multifarious convocation
of glass, shell, and coral.

The incorruptible sea
ignores the cries of
"wait" and "hold on"
delivering new disciples
while it spirits others away.

Image copyrighted by the Artist

Somali Girl
by Gavin MacHutchin, Watercolor

The planes of her face enraptured me. A classical sculpture rendered in mahogany rather than marble.  So much nuance, I reached out to sketch.

The tragedy of civil war I saw in the slight twist of her mouth and the set of her chin. Her culture is old and venerated, as long-flowing as the Nile, and expressed in her graceful carriage and elegant hands.

Yet, my graphite lingered on her eyes and the optimistic promise of her cheeks.  There resided the understanding of joy, and a grasp of hope. Therein past, present, and the promise of a future were captured.

Sunrise, Sunset
Image copyrighted by the Artist
by Karen Maria Petrillose, Collage

(with apologies to Maya Angelou)

"Tell us, Ms Sol," the host entreats, pressing the microphone uncomfortably close, "Isn't it tiring?  The same thing every day."

"Its not always the same"

The mic's windscreen starting to melt.

"Yes, I know, ...,"

"Look!," she flares, "Hannibal invades Italy. I rise.  Visigoths march on Rome. I rise.  Everybody tries to invade Britain for centuries. I rise. Napoleon escapes from Elba. I rise. People are continually driven from their homelands. There's hate, fear, atrocities committed in the name of everything under me.  I keep on rising.  When y'all finally get this living in peace thing right, I'll consider alternatives."

The Burb
Image copyrighted by the Artist
by Susan Strohm, Acrylic & paper

When they talk of neighborhoods from immigrant days, it all sounds very organized, like a recipe: "half a cup of Italians, two tablespoons of Norwegians, add a pinch of Chinese."

The maps are not like that at all.  Wild spatterings of internationality, rendered vividly by some drunken painter who knew the value of family, and understood the comfort of habitual cultural tradition - like clustered with like in exotic urban irregularity.

The realities of the suburbs seem to dilute the unrestraint of that old intensity.  But you can still find it there: fierce strips beneath the surface of manicured lawns.


Aww . . . . Such a Life
Image copyrighted by the Artist
by Liz McDevitt, Oil Pastels (Parlor)

Ears carefully scan, alert.  This is a moment of clandestine delectation.

"Is anyone looking?"

Sun-warmed tummy up, and happy paws joyously aloft. An accidental flop to the left.

"I meant to do that."

Tail a-twitch with unrestraint, and purry-furry ecstasy.

"Holy cats, that feels so very good.  Mrrreeooowwp!"

Rolling, and rolling, and rolling on the rug.  Work that loose fur into its nap nice and deep.  Leave no doubt who has been here, and whose comfy carpet this is.  While the sun is hot, and the house is silent, let there be no mistaking.

"After all, I am the Cat."

The Muses
Image copyrighted by the Artist
by Mary Denend, Watercolor

Nine voices. 
Which is for me?
Nine sirens songs
beckoning whom?

Refrains waving
advancing, receding.
A canticle of
perpetual enticement.

I hear them all
calling by degree
literature, is that
what they extort?

Or computation
summing my skills,
perhaps a path of
observation, analysis.

Constant they weave
in all the chromas of
what can be or
what should be.

"How will I know?
How can I decide?"
my voice impertinent,
naive, imploring.

Nine heads turn
regarding, reserved.
"You don't"
their response.

Receding again
one faint answer
lingering, singular voice
"why choose?"


In the Silence
Image copyright by the Artist
(photo does NOT do this piece justice)
by Andrea Erickson, Water Media - Sumi

Strength in the stillness
rising to embrace the sky
caressing the clouds

Noiseless, unspeaking
a constant modulation
in motion surrounds.

It remains alone
unchanged as yet unchanging
immutable there.

Soundless wisdom still
knows what the stonecutter learned
power does not shout.

Other Works from 
the Proctor Arts Fest Juried Art Show
(posted alphabetically by title)
Note: All Stories are © 2016 by Judith Cullen

At the Pier
by William Harris, Photography 

Image copyright by Artist
Air like a cool slap
world of reflection
mirroring reflection
hues and brightness

The salty tangy
dusk hour aftertaste
of the toil-full day,
bending to dreaminess

At the border band
eternal gateway between
solid and liquid
the water is restless
slowly lapping

Shadows lengthen
colors fade and obscure
resolve into darkness
and all lapses to repose
excepting the wakeful
wind and tide.

"d" Bears
by Mary Denend, Mixed Media 

Are we five
Image copyright by the Artist
or are we nine,
nose to rump
precise of line.

Brown and snowy
black and white,
then the ones
just out of sight.

Do they count
inferred and furry,
hid behind
a snowflake flurry.

Heirs apparent
them that's hid,
march along with
paws and skid.

We are bears
a calculate cast
count us quick
this might not last.

Dew Drops
Image copyright by the Artist
by M. Schossow Schumaker, Watercolor

"Where do dew drops come from?" the young voice piped, turning vibrant attention from the blossom; eyes looking up filled with trust and a desire to know.

It was one of those questions.  Answering hastily or off-hand would never do. Her mother's mind raced for just the right words to inform without crushing the wonder of it.

"Well, at night the flowers sleep.  In the morning they have to wake up, just like you do.  The dew is actually the morning air, and at sunrise its right there, waiting ..."

"To kiss the flowers awake, right?"


"That's just right."

Image copyright by the Artist
Echinacea-Early in the Season
by Loni L. Stoelting-LaQuill, Mixed Media

The Earth should rumble
colors flash through the dawning sky,
nature's heralds shout.

Here is the moment
that changes the rush of tides,
course of continents.

Perception tilting
reality glows vibrant
worlds subtly shift.

All from a tiny touch
of the softest fluttering:
butterfly, flower.

Ghost Images
by M. Schossow Schumaker, Print #4
Image copyright by the Artist
A flickering glint
shadows and bright particles
loom and then fade away.

Counting and countless,
forms that advance and retreat
phosphorescent gleams.

Do they tease darkness
with the spontaneity
they flee from the light.

These Spirits of time
of history and the dawn
the ephemeral.

What would they tell us?
ancient voices now speaking
what is it they know?

Hung Out to Dry
Image copyright by
the Artist
by Jan Fisher, Mixed Media

She had handed him the cord, pointed where to tie it, and quizzed him on knots.  Now she waited.

It had started with "you're not hanging that stuff all over my house" when he'd arrived with tales of faulty driers and funky landlords.  A mischievous breeze waltzed through the window screen with thoughts of long-gone-times: billowing cotton sails dancing alongside the shirts and jeans. She wondered if he'd notice, as Mother's often will, sipping her iced tea.

"These smell incredible Mom.  I'm going to dry all my laundry on the line from now on."

Score one for the electric bill.

Morning has Broken
by Joyce Webley, Photography
Image copyright of the Artist

The mists of summer yield her up to my sleepily drawn curtains: the great "Tacoma" whose summit held the fiery home of spirits in the days when the peoples of this land first told their tales.

She is a great lady, wrapped in a stole of soft clouds.  Slow to anger, yet awesome in her fury, she plays hide and seek as you journey on roads diverse and paths that wander.  She disappears completely, hiding from visitors who then feel compelled to ask, "What mountain?"

Then she unveils her majesty in a glorious instant that leaves you breathless and gaping.

Pacific Barn Dance
Image copyright by the Artist
by Susan Strohm, Acrylic, wood veneer, Cloth, Paper, Gel Medium  (Foyer)

Step, advance, smile at your partner.  The night is all color, texture, and scents that cannot be forgotten.  Whirling skirts, swirling fiddles, and the rough scuff of booted feet on pounded ground. 

This dance ends. Everyone claps, looking around with flushed and happy faces. She looks at her dance partner and wonders "are you meant for me?"  Or decades from now will she struggle to remember his name and the color of his eyes?  There is an uncomfortable shuffling on the stomping plain.

Then a flurry of notes. The floor re-orders itself once again into music, motion, and bright possibility.

Photo Booth Horses
by Janette Stiles, Acrylic

"I'll tell!"
Image copyright by Artist

"No, let me tell!"

"Move over! You're hogging the frame!"

"No!" the voice of command, "I'll tell." 

A tittering, temporary silence. An overbearing clearing of an equine throat.

"We came here today..."

"A roan, a grey, and a palomino walk into a bar, and the bartender says..."

"Yap, yap, yap!  That's all you ever do when you think anyone is listening."

"Me!  How did this become about me?"

"We're getting off the subject, now we came here today..."

"What's that flash?  Did you see a flash?"

"What flash?"

"There it is again!"

"What's that whirring sound?  What's happening?"

Spalted-Landscape of a Driftlog I
by Liz Leines, Photograph on Canvas

Ancient stone parchment
Image copyright by the Artist
writ with the secrets of seas
tales of washing tides.

Natural poems
changing with each ebb and flow
stories that ever shift.

Time is of nothing
continents part and drift
men tread place to place.

Heroes come and go
Prophets foresee and foretell
the march continues.

Nations rise, conquer
falling just as terribly
no cataclysm.

The waters rush in
erase, review, and revise
the tales enduring.

The Welcome Door, Italy
Image copyright by the Artist
by Connie Hardy, Photography 

Is it really a door?  My fingers politely touch the plaster that looks part illusion, and part dimensional reality.  My fancy muses if this is what a temporal portal really looks like, no lights or whistling bells.

What kind of world would lay beyond this.  Would the paint ooze thickly into my sandals?  Would my arms rasp against carved plaster ornately commemorating The Wall coming down? Would my host peel himself from the wall to hand me a cup of coffee, round and steaming in my hand?


Unable to resist knowing, my still polite hand reaches out to knock.

Winter Woods
by Bonnie Cargol, Watercolor
Image copyrighted by the Artist

The mitten-ed hand held tightly in the much larger leather gloved one, as their feet crunched together through the hushful whiteness of the meadow. The silence in the wintry world is so complete, that her whisper feels like a thunderclap as she asks, "Daddy, why is everything so quiet?"

"Everything is sleeping, Pumpkin. Resting up for the great excitement of Spring."

Her pom-pom bobbles as her head nods wisely, "Everybody needs to take naps sometime."

"Listen close," he tells her, smiling, "the brook is sighing, keeping watch."

A new question now.

"Does that mean we can go have some cocoa?"

(This story is dedicated to Gemma and John Morland.)


Check Art Inspired Stories from previous shows here:

Read all of the 2015 stories from Peninsula Art Leagues 13th annual Open Show HERE

Read all of the 2015 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE

Read all of the 2014 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE


  1. Such wonderful writing! I am the artist of "Aunt Ruthie", and I must say when I read what you wrote about her, it was if you had read my mind! Your description of Ruthie was exactly what I had been told by relatives for so many years. I never met her, but what I imagined her to be was how you depicted her personality, quirks and outlook on life! Thank you for what you wrote and hope to meet you sometime....
    Janette Stiles

  2. Janette, that is wonderful! I am an Aunt myself, and I wrote from my own experience. How amazing that it hit so close. I only wish there were some portrait if me that was so precise and exquisite as your "Aunt Ruthie". As someone who also paints, I was just stunned by it. BRAVA!