top of page

Tell Me A Story 2020

WRITERS WANTED: Connect with a piece of art in the show and write a story, poem, essay, etc inspired by the artwork. Submit your work to for possible publication on the website and join us on Sunday, October 25, 2020, from 3-5 PM to share the writing you created with our audience.

Artwork in the exhibition will also be available to view and purchase online through the Emerge Gallery Artsy shop where you will find additional works in the exhibition. A virtual tour and artists discussion is scheduled for Sunday, October 4, 2020, at 3 PM and a virtual reading is scheduled for Sunday, October 25, 2020, from 3-5 PM where writers may share their work written to accompany a piece of art. Both events will be broadcast live on the Emerge Gallery YouTube channel. Virtual events will be archived for later viewing on the gallery website at

The exhibit includes two works from Kay Kenny's photographic series Into the Night in the Middle of No Where, a poetic tribute to the rural night. “The darkness gives rise to our inherent fear of the unknown,” she explains. “While photographing, I tried to address those fears as well as capture the beauty of the night — a beauty we have all but forgotten to see as we light our way through the darkness.”

© Kay Kenny, Orchard House Archival Ink Jet photograph, 18" x 18"

Red Bank, NJ, painter Eileen Kennedy works in egg tempera, a medium where the artist mixes pigment with egg yolk and applies the paint with a fine brush, layering to create a hazy blend of color. Her paintings depict situations without explaining exactly what is going on. She likes to evoke enough emotion that “someone can make up their own stories.” Writers will have the opportunity to finish Kay’s, Eileen’s and the narratives of 38 other artists throughout the month of October. Writers are asked to submit the work created to Response writing will be published on the gallery website.

© Eileen Kennedy, Dona Nobis Pacem Egg tempera on wood panel, 24" x 34" 2018

Additional artists include Lucinda Abra, Gertrude Abramson, Luis Alves, Geta Badea, Loel Barr, Nancy Catandella, Shelley Davis, Michael Eagan, Timothy Ebneth, Howard Finkelson, Andrea Geller, Patti Gibbons, Dan Goldman, Melissa Harris, Susan Hoffer, Deborah Joyce, Suzanne Kirschner, Tracy Leavitt, Barbara Tepper Levy, Sophia Levy, Yvette Lewis, Linda Lynton, Marjorie Magid, Barbara Masterson, Susan J Murphy, Will Nixon, Suzanne Parker, Stacey AS Pritchard, Elaine Ralston, Tad Richards, Rita Sherry, Janet Siskind, Margaret G Still, Cindy Sumerano, Jean Tansey, Pamela Tucker, Vinette Varvaro, and Mimi Young, Tell Me a Story is curated by Emerge Gallery director Robert Langdon.

Tell Me a Story: An Exhibition of Narrative Art and Writers Respond to Tell Me a Story are part of Shout Out Saugerties — a celebration of culture and the arts in October. Information may be found at

Artist discussion and tour of TELL ME A STORY


© Lucinda Abra, Fear

Encaustic, Oil and collage on wood, 14" x 18"

"Mother's Milk"

You lactate a complex flow of contradictions that dribbles down my chin with the shame of a stain. I want to forget the day I found that first red stain on my ten-year old’s Wonder Woman panties. Terrified, I run upstairs to tell Nana. My gentle grandmother slaps me across my face.

I cry: “Why did you hit me?” Nana says, “Ask your mother when she comes home from work.”

The moment I hear your key click in the keyhole I run to the door. When I speak, you slap my face too. You, who never laid on a hand on me. Why? You shrug: “I don’t know. It’s what mothers do. That’s what Nana did to me.”

Why didn’t your mother’s milk offer me the nourishment and immunity from judging myself as being nothing more than my menstrual flow? From fertility to maternity to menopause, must I believe that I am simply what I bleed?

Your milk sours in my mouth whenever you try to convince me your slap was done with love to awaken me from my childhood slumber. I was ten years old.

If I’m ever blessed to one day suckle my own daughter, I will offer up a kiss, not a slap, when she comes to me with her first red stain. I will celebrate her menstrual flow as sacred, not shameful, as it honors her passage from childhood and will continue to do so right up to her old age.

And should someone ever claim her blood is a curse, I will ask why is it painful to be reminded of your youth each month?

— © Mark Blickley

© Nancy Catandella, Teddy's Day At the Swimming Pool

Acrylic on canvas, 10" x 10"

The Day Ruby Left Us

— © Raye Lankford

The day Ruby left us, I had no idea it was going to be our last day. Although in retrospect, I can see there were obvious signs. But that morning, the puppy woke us, growling at something in the yard, and circled the bed like a shark until Ruby and I finally decided to rouse ourselves to see what was up. By this point, Ruby’s eyesight wasn’t great, and her hearing was even worse, so I don’t know whether she would have lost her footing anyway, or whether the puppy’s overly-eager “good morning” greeting caused her to slip, but there Ruby was, sprawled on the floor with all four paws going in different directions, and in her effort to get back up, she lost control of her bladder.

I quickly helped her stand and ushered her onto our raised deck. And I should have – to this day I kick myself that I didn’t – I should have gone onto the deck with Ruby and carried her down to the yard as I had every other morning of the previous year. But I didn’t have pants on, and my nearest neighbor was an early riser who frequently sat on his deck bird-watching with binoculars, and for whatever stupid reason, instead of going out on the deck in my underwear and carrying Ruby to safety, I opted to put on pants.

I reached the door in time to see Ruby blindly tumble off the edge of our deck. The fall wasn’t far – twenty inches, tops. But for a blind dog who couldn’t brace herself for the landing… It was horrific to watch, even thought she stood immediately after, and stumbled through the ornamental grasses and onto the lawn, seemingly unfazed. Why had I stopped to put on pants? Why?!

Instead of taking both the dogs on our usual morning hike (an easy, one mile loop that took us along a stream where Ruby could swim – she loved to swim), I decided to walk the dogs separately, taking the puppy on the hike, then taking Ruby for a shorter (calmer) walk with just the two of us afterwards. I sensed we needed some solo time.

It was late July. And by mid-day, it was already oppressively hot. Ruby was a black, thick-coated mutt; a mix of Labrador retriever, chow (we think), and border collie. Swimming had always been her favorite pastime. So after our walk, I led Ruby to our swimming hole, which was just across the street from our house. We hadn’t been there in a few months because the puppy was terrified of water.

I cringe when I remember this now, but at the time, I couldn’t understand why Ruby hesitated on her way down to the stream. Sight or no sight, she had always drug me towards any body of water we came across. I picked her up and carried her down the muddy slope, across the algae-covered rocks, down the tree-root-covered ledge and onto the stream’s pebbled shore.

But Ruby still seemed uncertain about the whole situation, even with the water lapping about her feet -- she, who had once swum out into the mighty Hudson River in the shadow of the Little Red Lighthouse and the GWB in pursuit of ducks; she who had leapt with abandon into the enormous water fountain in Eden Park in Cincinnati, Ohio; she who had eagerly paddled the rivers that course the trails along the Blue Mountain Parkway on one of our road trips; she who had never missed an opportunity to jump in the Millstream on our daily walks around the Comeau trail.

She didn’t seem to know what to do with water.

Fully clothed in jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt, I led her into the water and slipped my arms under her belly, so that I was supporting her, as if I were a parent teaching a child how to float. Pivoting on my feet, I moved Ruby to the left, then to the right, back and forth, back and forth. Suddenly, a light came on in her eyes, and she began to paddle as I held her. I released her and she swam across the stream with me swimming beside her. We circled and swam towards the other side again. Back and forth. Back and forth. And though the swimming hole was crowded, she knew me. Knew where I was. And I knew her.

She woke me at two in the morning having seizures. I sang, “You Are My Sunshine” on the frantic ride to the emergency vet in Kingston. The vet said Ruby had likely had a massive stroke, and that it would only get worse, not better. And though I tried to calm her, Ruby was frantic, panting and careening in a tight circle. The vet explained that one side of Ruby’s brain was damaged, that’s why she could no longer walk in a straight line. She said Ruby likely didn’t know who I was or where she was.

I rocked her in my lap as the vet administered the first shot to calm Ruby’s nerves. I whispered in Ruby’s ear, telling her she was the best dog in the world and I thanked her for coming into my life. I spooned on the floor beside her as the vet returned with the second shot, releasing Ruby from her fear and pain.

Later when I slept, I dreamt I was with Ruby. We swam back and forth; back and forth.

© Shelley Davis, We Say Bad Words All the Time!

Mixed media, 14" x 11"


So I curse sometimes. So shoot me. I can't help it -- when something goes wrong, when I spill something or break something, I yell "SON OF A BITCH!" or "FUCK!" or "SHIT!" I don't mean to -- it just pops out. So what harm does it do? Well, I guess if somebody thought I'm a nice cultured lady, and that's real important to them, after they hear that, they think less of me.

My mom, who was a real nice lady, figured out a way around it. When she needed to, she'd yell "FISH!" or "FIDDLESTICKS!" I've tried it, but it doesn't do the job for me. Cut my finger with a knife, it's "GODDAMITTOHELL" before I know I've said anything.

My daughter married into a family who sternly disapprove of cursing. Oh, the rolled eyes and pursed lips! The embarrassment! The shame! Sometimes I belch too, and that's just as bad. I'm not invited back. Screw 'em.

So why the hell are some words "bad"? I can talk about an ankle, or a shoulder, or a nose, or even about a chest (altho that's getting a little too close to an erogenous zone). I can refer to eyes or teeth or tennis elbow without giving anybody the willies. But say "ass" and the eyebrows go up. Say "cock" and a murmur goes around the room. Say "cunt" and it's all over, I'll never live it down.

There are words that name things so bad that they should be abolished: "war" "nuclear bomb" "torture" "holocaust" "slavery" "lynching" "capitalism" "poverty" "eviction" "rape." But these these are commonplace. These words can be spoken anywhere. It might be shocking to hear them come out of the mouth of a child, but the child would not be punished for speaking them. But let the same child say "motherfucker" and oh, the horror!

So kids know exactly where and when they can speak freely, and when they have to be careful. Kids use cursewords among themselves all the time. And grownups too! We know who we can be unguarded around. In our house, we say bad words all the time.

— © Susan Murphy

© Michael Eagan, Vincent's Star

Acrylic on canvas mounted on wood panel, 24" x 8"

Dearest Vincent,

You must have lain beneath the light of a star sluicing through your window in your asylum and found a friend there. And then you wondered how to paint it so that it would encompass a whole canvas, to scintillate over a landscape of a midnight sky and felt loved as well. The star talks to you now. It does not do so in so many words but you hear it whisper and cajole, like a teasing lover.

Death wrapped you in a blanket of snow, below your beloved star where you can endlessly stare at your beautiful star, staring back lovingly at you., naked without the trappings of your painting. Just a star now, a vanguard to the artist who made her famous in ways the way midnight can be just as bright as sunflowers owned by the sun. Now the star owns you.



— © Shalom Aranas

© Dan Goldman, In the Pines


In the Pines

a blustery wind, sends a chill, scrapes wooded branches, thrusts, shadows and full moon’s light, scattering them, on a bone cold hallow’s eve.

we lie, anxiously awaiting for the twelfth hour, night that brings forth the veil between worlds, will rip and scratch, its way apart.

crawling through, the veil splatters behind, centuries of ancients — to remain, untamed crones, accursed maidens, the time has come for their return, their calling, to rid the earth of evil, and bring eternal healing to Gaia.

Truest Equality and Peace to All.

— © Michelle DeCicco

© Robert Greco, The Streets of Prague

Acrylic on canvas, 48" x 36"

Oh, Prague. Cobblestone streets, high heels so impractical. Warm colored home, you feel like an actor in a fairy tale. Chatter all around; beer glasses raised high. Walk up and down; the Castle makes a point. Summer rain storm, over in 5 minutes. The city refreshed, ready to resume its life filled up with centuries of stories. Home. I miss you.

— © Martina Sestakova

© Eileen Kennedy, BFFs

Egg Tempra on wood panel, 21" x 32"

BFF’s - Eileen Kennedy


whisper please

we believe

our friend has changed

whistling her views

as flighty as a bird

totally absurd

oh Suzannah

was the sane and sensible one

now she sings

sounds never before heard

oh Suzannah

you seem to stare

into some other realm

we speak she hears no words

oh Suzannah

where does your mind flow

you’ve lost your grounding

to that damn blackbird

— © gwynneth green

© Kay Kenny, The Orchard House

Archival Ink Jet Photograph, 18" x 18"

Orchard House, 2013

after Kay Kenny

May I say that’s me,

or any other poet/writer,

having a field day

in the woodshed,

away from all house din,

welcomed by the garden buzz.

Sitting in an old chair,

old pillow under my rump,

at a long wooden table

expounding on a yellow tablet,

pounding on my keyboard

words: last vestiges of light

outside dissolving,

the mysteries of night beginning

on my page.

Not all sheds hold tools

or nasty things like spider webs,

some, like this one you’ve

stumbled upon, would welcome

you for a spell with a light

tap on the door.

— © Patrick Hammer, Jr.

When Santa does the nasty in his red-lit love shack

And the fox arrives to steal salty underwear off the rack

When the girl shines her flashlight up to make a scary face

And the rest of us wonder what the hell just landed from outer space

When the forest fires her decorator for such poor lighting

And the photographer fears her latest idea is kinda frightening,

When the grass has nothing better to do than collect heavy dew

And the girl with a monster face begins to regret her wet shoes

When the stars start to spin like failing a sobriety test

And Santa shoves his red-nosed hussy into the position he likes best

When the rest of us wonder if we really have nothing better to do

And the fox is of the mind to find that girl for a fragrant shoe to chew

When this silly thing has enough lines to be approximating a sonnet

Then, doggone it, the photographer should say cheese and step on it.

— © Will Nixon

© Kay Kenny, White Umbrella

Archival Ink Jet Photograph, 18" x 22"

a haiku inspired by White Umbrella, 2015 by Kay Kenny

her white umbrella

casts a glow like a halo

in a field of dreams

            — © Sari Grandstaff


© Suzanne Kirschner, Wishing Rocks

Oil, India ink and Aluminum on paper 24" x 30"

Wishing Rocks, 2017

after Suzanne Kirschner

Not Easter eggs,

with their sugar-colored

filigree, bound for tummy.

Not shells from the sea,

small or large, held up

to the ear for Mer’s message.

Not coins of this or any

other realm rattling

in pockets to be spent.

Not store-brand pasta

or anything homemade, boiled,

eaten with sauce and cheese.

They are wishing rocks all:

these black/white/grey amulets,

all powerful talismans

waiting to be held.

— © Patrick Hammer, Jr.

© Barbara Tepper Levy, Drowning In Gin

Open and Ink, 20" x 22"

Drowning In Gin - Barbara Tepper Levy

pour me another

the better bottle


i can tell the difference

between what you poured before

and Sapphire

have you not notice

the color of my clothes

and the bling that adorn

this lovely torso

pour me another

the good stuff

i can handle it

standing is no problem

preference is seated

when sipping

pour me another

there are no sorrows

to drown

i have found

this blue bottle

to be

my friend

and confidant

amazingly she

never talks trash

never talks back

and always is pleased

to pour me another

— © gwynneth green

© Linda Lynton, What's for Breakfast?

Oil on canvas, 21" x 17"

haiku for Lynda Lynton’s What’s for Breakfast

a seagull’s question

are you going to share that?

gives me the side eye

— © Sari Grandstaff


© Marjorie Magid, The French Cafe

Acrylic on canvas, 18" x 24"

The French Café - Marjorie Magid


be a dear

my coffee

needs warming

and a fresh croissant

would make a perfect pairing

it is

Thursday morning

my day

to stroll by the Seine

my feet began to hurt

these new shoes

are too tight

i feel a bit overdressed

the weather has not yet turned

i forgot

the name of the avenue

from whence i came

there’s a lovely lady

who sells flowers

on Wednesdays

she saves

me a perfect pink rose

telling of her grandmother

who i remind her of

on Saturdays

my son Simon

brings a baguette

filled with cheese

and shares

the past weeks tits & tats

we laugh

till we cry

then he hugs me before

his adieu

Mondays i paint

my father’s uncle

was a Monet

an artist

i believe

so i try

to do the family proud

they say

i have no talent to tell

ha ha

the francs i’ve made

oh dear

i have rambled on


my coffee

still needs warming

and a fresh croissant

s’il vous plait

— © gwynneth green

© Will Nixon, Untitled

Digital photography, 10" x 8"


after Will Nixon

Since I died I lost

all sense of color.

Things now like cars

and twigs are washed

out black and white.

Yes, that’s my car

at the side of the road.

And I guess these are

my twigs since I rest

not too deeply under them.

It was random, just off

the highway, at a pit stop,

for coffee and the paper.

He got me to follow him

this far. Guess I’ll be in

the Daily News, on Dateline,

60 Minutes, 48 Hours.

I did not know him, did not

know why he took my life.

There’s patience in death.

I’ll wait here quietly until

you or someone else

uncovers my name.

— © Patrick Hammer, Jr.


Roots have their opinions,

Stubborn, stuck up, stabbing at air.

They know what we fear:

Voices buried in soil,

Bones no longer bones,

The truth that crawls forth

To catch up with the speeding car.

— © Will Nixon

We sped by, lost in thought about tonight’s menu, tomorrow’s meetings, and yesterday’s shopping trip. Eyes on the road, mind directed inward.

The fallen leaves watched us go by. They had no regrets about releasing their hold from the branch that had given them life.

The twigs witnessed our passing. They had no plans for the future. They were prepared to melt back into the soil.

The worms felt the rumble of our wheels overhead. They existed purely for that moment, so the shuddering of the ground did not distract from their focus.

We were the only ones who divided our energy and attention. We were carried over the earth, never touching or becoming attached.

— © JoJo Murphy for Will Nixon’s “Untitled”

© Suzanne Parker, She Will Be Missed

Mixed media on canvas, 18" x 18"

“She Will Be Missed”

Her Heart worked tirelessly 

                  for All

Her Vow for true Justice

               never failed

Her Perseverance moved

               forward till

Her End

        She Will Be Missed, and

Our Threads must

                stand Together 

  to form a beautiful and

                 strong Heart

        Love is Strength

Our Threads must connect

                  and intertwine 

  to form a webbing 

                   of Compassion

         Empathy is Strength

     She Will Be Missed

and We Will Persist

— © Michelle DeCicco

A haiku in response to Suzanne Parker’s She Will Be Missed

notorious one

soars through the gates of heaven

scales of justice tip

— © Sari Grandstaff


© Suzanne Parker, Trumpula

Mixed media on wood, 8.25" x 11"

Trumpula, 2020

after Suzanne Parker

Trumpula, Trumpula,

T-rump, you strumpet,

you, you, you are all orange

hair and livid face

on fire. Out for blood,

you vamp, teeth so sharp,

sinking your ugly mug

into our lives.

Trumpula, Trumpula,

put your shit-crusted

finger down. Put your micro

pee pee back in your pant.

Make America Civil Again.

Make your Proud Boys go

home to their basement bunkers.

Lugosi at his worst, better

than you masquerading

in formal wear. T-rump,

T-rump, your Erection Day

is a no-no, a no-go.

— © Patrick Hammer, Jr.

© Rita Sherry, Journey

Mixed media, 24" x 20"

Journey, 2017 - Rita Sherry

his journey

no plan

no destination

a wandering





the surrounding


to the road

as the wind whips

around his hollow core

he calls out

not in anger

not in despair

waiting for answers

that lay

in the echo of the air

which direction

should he turn

what path

should he take

not following the footsteps

of those before

leaving no trace

for others to follow

his past

seemed wrong

mistakenly viewed

purely the building blocks

the steppingstones

to now

his imprints

his history

a legacy

not recorded by any

his future

this journey

his track to

a discovery


……………. self-worth

— © gwynneth green

© Janet Siskind, Haunted

Monoprint, 21" x 18"

Haunted, 2020

after Janet Siskind

Last night I dreamt

of Manderley again.

I stood cloaked

in red and watched

fire eat the roof

and windows and walls

and all our lives


Last night I gave up

again but also dreamt

a young woman

from India on a bier

awaiting cremation

out on dark waters

like her flowing hair.

In a circle of people she

stood up, took a breath,

and walked away

to live again.

— © Patrick Hammer, Jr.

© Margaret G. Still

Celestial Storage Units, Maiden, North Carolina

Oil on wood, 19" x 25"

a haiku in response to Margaret G. Still’s Celestial Storage Units, Maiden, North Carolina

a matter of space

we’re slaves to our possessions

in storage we trust

— © Sari Grandstaff



bottom of page