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Art & Words 2023

For as far back as the times of Plato, writers have been inspired by art to create poetry true to the form of the original work, yet adding their unique poetic perspective. Art & Words is taking the model one step further by not just engaging existing artwork to inspire poetry, but by also using existing poetry to inspire artwork.

Art & Words consists of an exhibition of art and poetry— side-by-side — that includes artists and poets inspiring one another. Existing poetry was collected by 13 invited poets and artwork was curated from 18 artists throughout the Hudson Valley and New York Metropolitan area. Those artists and poets were given the opportunity to select poems or pieces of art that spoke to them from the submitted work and to create a new piece of art — be it a visual art piece or poem — based on the original inspiration.

Shelley Davis

Nest (2023)

Mixed media, 16" x 20"

click image to purchase

inspired by Nested Heart, Monica Teresa Fiorentini

jd weiss

leaving the nest & flying free (2023)

encaustic medium, photography, india ink, pan pastel/ on rice paper/panel, 12" x 18"

click image to purchase

inspired by Nested Heart, Monica Teresa Fiorentini

Debbie Auer-Breithaupt

Nested Heart (2022)

Acrylic and acrylic painted nest collage with a yupo paper "egg shell", 20

' x 16"

inspired by Nested Heart, Monica Teresa Fiorentini

Nested Heart

Nested Heart

break from your shell

undo those wings

I wanna hear your call

You sit up there

safe and hidden

hard with soft colors

seemingly forbidden

Nested Heart

break from your shell

undo those wings

I wanna hear your call

We can stack

sticks and stones

make a pretty home

to call our own

and, yes

You can still gaze

at ladies in flowy skirts

'n cotton shirts

keepin' your head close

to twilight’s haze

Nested Heart

break from your shell

undo those wings

I wanna hear your call

Don’t fly ‘til your ready

'cause I know

these first steps

aren’t always steady

but please break from your shell

undo those wings

I so want to hold your call

— Monica Teresa Fiorentini 

Will Nixon

Hood Trees (2023)

Digital photography, 9" x 11"

inspired by the poem Winter Trees, Phillip X Levine

Regina Quinn

Scratching the Sky (2023)

Encaustic with India ink and oils over watercolor, 8" x 8"

inspired by the poem Winter Trees, Phillip X Levine

jd weiss

winter trees (2023)

medium format film/archival pigment print on panel, 20" x 20"

inspired by the poem Winter Trees, Phillip X Levine

Winter Trees

I like the trees best now

With their hands where I can see them

I like the white oaks most of all

Black brawn and brainy

These are the sadhus I know

Caught by the shocking strobe of season

Arms in frantic mad apology

Scratching the sky for one more sun

— Phillip X Levine

Lucinda Abra

Sun Dance

Encaustic, oil and collage on wood

24" x 24"

inspired the poem Star Crossed , Lucinda Abra


Inez focused on the slightest sliver of light that snaked under the closed door.

A lone tear trickled downwards, a darkened blotch amongst the field of pillowcase daisies.

Her uncle clawed and raked.

Again. Again. Again.

He disparaged riddles and worries while their bodies merged. One quite willing, hungry even. The other, rigid.

He whispered they were like Romeo and Juliet.

And they were, star-crossed.

She tried to speak, to tell her mom. But inside Inez's mouth, stubborn knots of words refused to dislodge.

They sat there unused, dirty, swollen tangles banging against her braces.

Her menstrual cycles had just recently begun.

So easy to not notice a skipped month or two.

Her uncle arrived punctually every single Saturday to keep Inez company. Ever grateful for family nearby, her mom ran through town doing weekly shopping and a few sundry chores.

She even stopped for a bite with her closest friend, enjoying a little downtime.

A third month, 90 days late, brought alarm.

Inez fainted in class.

Knowing her condition, the school nurse summoned an ambulance.

Her parent fought against revulsion, anger, and fear as the physician expressed her remorse. The hospital could not give the girl her next series of chemotherapy. It would harm the fetus.

Inez, feverish and weak, did not yet understand that her childhood had ended.

She would be a mother by her fourteenth birthday.

That is, if leukemia didn't kill her first.

– Lucinda Abra

simplicity of life

henry thought

taking a walk

down memory lane

would ease his pain

that wakes him


going back

to the 2 room cottage

air perfumed

by lavender

that bees busily buzzed

did he

truly miss this

simplicity of life

no one nagging


his mom

every evening


he laughs now

that wasn’t nagging

she wanted him to succeed

follow his dreams

leave the simple life behind

put his head to the grindstone

be better

be grander than this

see what life could offer


buy the big house

fill it with kids

a dog and a cat

maybe come back

for a visit

before her last breath

her smile haunts him

for he missed that day

to busy to take a break

a wife that nags morning and night

nothing seems to be right

she needs more than he can do

when did he lose his way

when did he stray

from his true beliefs


didn’t resist

this last opportunity

unpacking his bag

he found his grounding


the 2 room cottage

air perfumed

by lavender

that bees busily buzz

he no longer misses


simplicity of life

— Gwynneth Green

Lucinda Abra

Hard (2023)

Paper on rice paper

27.5" x 27.5"

inspired the poem:


The government was handing out 160-acre parcels.

We hoarded every precious penny for a fresh life.

Determined, Samuel insisted we head west after hearing a real estate agent brag on the guarantee of the rain following the plow. By pushing the farrows soil deep, moisture was created.

Plenty of land was just waitin' to be conquered with dig and seed. One of those Oklahoma plots had his name right on it. His name

My husband often opined how the vast expanse of grain took on a purple hue at dawn. That's the closest that man ever came to being poetic. About wheat!

I birthed babies.

Four died at childbirth.

Franny made it to five before the consumption took her.

Nearly killed me, burying my little ones.

The ground demanded everything, even the entombment of hope.

All this was the before times, not the after.

Then came hell on earth.

The heavens did not, would not, offer one drop of rain.

Samuel took to staring at cloud patterns, citing to no one, except maybe the emaciated horse, that he was sure that the vault of heaven was just about to open up.

During a two-day dust storm, the barn disintegrated as it plummeted by the tempest.

Millions of pounds of earth we had so toiled upon blew from our

aspirations to as far away as Chicago.

Then like the tale of Job, our suffering only increased.

The earth heaved and thrashed.

I could not see my husband, though we stood only feet apart.

An enduring hunger left us empty with longing.

Samuel put salt on his boot and shoved it greedily into his parched mouth. They killed him, those farm shoes.

Dirt coursed through the papers ma had sent me. As I read those recipes, my fingers traced aside the fine particles of blowing turmoil, imagining satisfying tastes like that of a baked potato. I ate them papers, chewing them slowly.

Uselessly I worked my broom in a dreamish frenzy, resolved to conquer the warrior terrain. Finally, one corner of the house was left, along with a chair, my broom, and the good book.

The land was as barren as I was.

From dust, we all return.

— Lucinda Abra

Debbie Auer-Breithaupt

Kitsune (2021)

Acrylic and watercolor market on canvas

11" x 14"

Kitsune inspired the poems


summer sweet grass,

breath, slow as a

tender whisper, with

friendship on it’s tongue,

she and I promises kept,

we have journeyed as one

soul, from our simple births,

precious butterflies carry our

love, from palm safely

to aqua citrine sky

— Michelle DeCicco



sought solace

in the flowery field

closing her eyes

images of a broken heart

not once

but thrice


hung heavily

releasing a deep sigh

falling into a meditative state

a magical spirit materialized

a guide

reminding her

to listen

be patient

be aware

be cautious

nudging her

Sophia stirred

still there

she held out her hands

he removed

her broken hearts

— Gwynneth Green


—based on a painting by Debbie Auer Breithaupt

Kitsune, little fox, my friend,

you hand me three cracked hearts

whose hues and shapes, like

bleeding heart blossoms,

tear at my own heart,

since we lived close together

as friends and companions.

Kitsune, little fox, my guide,

messenger from Inari,

goddess who descended

from Heaven to Japan

in the midst of famine

riding a white fox:

patron of bladesmiths and merchants,

you’ve brought me luck and good fortune

throughout the years.

Kitsune, little fox, my lover,

with a whoosh

of one of your nine tails

you changed me to being male

and changed yourself to female—

we had a son, and at the same time

my dog had a pup, which, as it grew,

got jealous of you, became

more and more hostile to you:

you begged me to kill it

but sadly, I refused, and one day

the dog attacked you so viciously,

you turned back to your vulpine shape,

leapt over a fence and fled.

Bereft, I called after you,

“You’re the mother of my son

and I will always love you.

Come back.” And every evening

you steal back

and sleep in my arms

as a woman, but at daybreak

you leave as a fox.

So you are never fully mine

and I am never fully yours.

Now you look beseeching

as I gaze at each of the three

cracked hearts you gave me,

and I feel my heart breaking,

for I still feel we are one:

I am in you and you are in me,

Kitsune, dear little fox,

my friend, guide and lover.

– Elizabeth Shafer

Debbie Auer-Breithaupt

Lullaby (2021)

Acrylic on canvas, 20" x 20"

Lullaby inspired the poem


sounds vibrate, from

space of heart,

energizes, vocal cords,

lull, wee one to


with melody, equal to cardinal’s

all nature feels anew

– Michelle DeCicco

Debbie Auer-Breithaupt

Timeout (2022)

Acrylic, watercolor on scrathcboard

Timeout inspired the poems


A pointy chill, seeping in through the big window, sat her up in bed. The soft bear absorbed her dark fear.  They saw each other in the red light: Dragon with his curved horns and spiky teeth, Girl in her fuzzy sweatsuit, bear fur pressed under her nails. I am afraid she said. I am afraid too, he said. Their eyes, in the violet shadows, heated the air of the room until a mountain range of fire swept the wall behind them, flickering each other's eyes. They sat as the rest of the house burned: the gray walls, ugly wallpaper, indifferent furnishings. They heard the rest of the household shouting, running away from the crackling fire growing louder. The big window siphoned smoke into the greater dark. Girl noticed the feathery white tips of Dragon’s wings, intricate gold and red streaks – embroidered flames. Dragon saw how Girl made sure to miss Bear’s eyes as her hand gently swept over his head and arm.  I am afraid she said. I am afraid too, he said. Strips of black wallpaper slid to the floor as the shouts and fire receded, the air brightening to a clear yellow. Will you take us away from this place? she asked. Yes, said Dragon, offering Girl the strong curved horns of his back, his soft wings.

— Ana C.H. Silva

The Dragon & the Queen

Long ago,

a dragon made a deal with a Queen.

He’d let her rule the world, if he’d remain unseen.

There was only one of his kind,

He’d be killed if they could find,

The monster from the sea.

Though he was just like you and me.

He roamed deep.

Fathoms below.

Deep as the disbelief,

That a dragon could love.

With his snake-like body and wings like a bat,

teeth like a tiger and eyes of a rat...

The townspeople would find him,

Too ugly for love,

Unfit to live.

Although he could fly,

he ‘d stay below the sea,

Knowing no one could believe,

He was just like you and me.

But the Queen knew better,

That’s why she was Queen,

She kept her promise,

and all it would mean.

Come morning, she was bowed down by the King.

The squire, the jester-- every living thing!

Twas evening when the curtains were drawn,

Come virgins and maidens to fan her till dawn!

She’d wake for fresh air,

and summons them all to retire.

For at night she was refueled,

by the dragon’s spitfire.

He kept his promise,

and stayed down below,

He would only appear,

for her in dark shadows.

Risking his life, for the guards were in sight,

She watched where his shadow,

appeared in the moonlight.

Quietly she escaped,

to the edge of the sea,

Then he guided the forces,

that danced with her delight!

He could tip-toe on the water,

Sending ripples far below

And shoot up like a cannon

Sending waves to her toes.

He made her love, when she was cold.

He kept her young, while she grew old.

He made her laugh, when she cried.

He made her live, when she died.

No one ever knew,

of the bond they had.

When the dragon sank low,

she was all he ever had.

There was a kingdom at her feet,

and fire in her soul,

She could command her army, but

love she could not control.

One day in battle, the Queen was dethroned,

and left for dead, by the side of the road.

While tucked away deep, in the sea he called home

He felt a cold shiver, from his head to his toe,

through his skin and his bones.

The dragon sensed trouble and rushed by her side,

And held the Queen in his wings, Just before she died.

He carried her high, into the sky.

Higher and higher,

To the stars,

They did fly.

While kingsmen below,

throughout the countryside,

Threw down their swords,

bowed their heads and cried.

No one ever knew of the friend

that stuck by the Queen to the end.

All the while,

they walked by her side,

Yet no one saw her, from the inside.

Except the dragon who had to hide, for he was feared and misunderstood.

Now the hand of fate, has left the dragon alone.

Through the seven seas, sadly, he did roam.

Centuries passed as he searched for a home,

looking for a love to call his own.

When he cried, his tears overflowed the seas,

He often thought of his fire-breathing Queen.

She kept her promise and allowed him to live,

but for whom did he now have his spit-fire to give?

Life became overwhelming for a dragon so unique.

Once upon a time, he wanted to fly.

To show the world he was like you and I.

He was ugly, yet, he could smile.

He was feared, yet he knew love.

He chose life over freedom, so he would remain,

But without the Queen, life wasn’t the same.

There was a time,

when he would give it a try,

Now he wanted to die.

Long ago,

a Dragon made a deal with a queen,

She allowed him to live if he’d remain unseen.

Now she was in heaven and he was again all alone.

But she wanted to be near his heart and his home.

Then from the heavens,

a miracle was sent.

The dragon found love, and wisdom,

and all that it meant.

Part-angel, part-dragon,

part-queen breathing fire.

He took her to his wings,

through eternity they would fly.

It was a gift from above,

for remaining true to love,

and their words, and deeds,

and all the good seeds

they planted in their journey through life.

There was only one dragon,

and only one queen,

who loved with a love,

the world had never seen.

If you open your eyes,

and look to the light,

You’ll see them shining in the sun,


dancing in the stars at night.

Showing the world, it is worth the fight.

Truth, promise and love---

If you can get a piece of it,

Embrace it with your life.