Art Tales Writing Contest


Art Tales: 9th annual writing contest inspired by art open through April 4, 2017

2017 Theme: Channel Crossings or The Sea Bridge

Meet me where the sky touches the sea. Wait for me where the world begins.― Jennifer Donnelly, The Winter Rose

When we speak of “the land and its people” throughout Ventura’s history we must talk about not only our beautiful coastal city but also the treasured Channel Islands close by and what is in between--those moving waters that connect everything: Channels Crossings or The Sea Bridge. Accordingly, the art pieces that inspire this year’s Art Tales theme come not only from “the mainland” of our Municipal Art Collection but also “the offshore” or outdoor Public Art Collection and “the flux and flow” of our Public Temporary Art Collection. ―Tobie Roach, City of Ventura Public Art Project Manager & Art Tales Curator

TEACHERS: Contact Tobie Roach at 805.658-4759 or to request printed copies of materials for your classes or questions regarding the contest.

Click the links below to view and download reproductions of artworks, contest info and the required release form:

1. The Whale’s Tail by Michelle Stevens and others, P.L.A.C.E. temporary sculpture of recycled plastic bottles, 2015
2. Traveller by Blue McRight & Warren Wagner, Cor-Ten steel sculpture, 1998
3. Channel Island Series by Tom McMillin, magnetite and plexiglas, mid-1980s
4. Ventura by the Sea by Leonard Poteshman, acrylic and mixed media oil painting, 2004

5. All 4 contest artworks in one PDF, each printable on 8.5" x 11" sheets
6. Teacher and writer lesson plan with entry rules, featured artist bios &  more lesson plan model poems - see the archives below to view past anthologies of winners in prose and poetry for more great examples
7. Download to fill, save and send the REQUIRED RELEASE FORM in English or Spanish

Visit E. P. Foster Library 2nd floor or the links below and choose the artwork that inspires you to create and enter your own poem or short story, 500 words or less by April 4, 2017
● Free and open to all writers worldwide  ● Prizes in 3 age categories
● To receive future contest notices sign up here. Click the top link, which will allow you to select "Art Tales News"


  1. Visit E.P. Foster Library, 651 E Main St in Ventura, to view the current exhibit of artworks from the City of Ventura Municipal Art Collection: View images and complete contest kit at
  2. Write an original poem or short story (no more than 500 words in length) inspired by ONE of the artworks there that “calls” to you. Only ONE contest entry per person please.
  3. Prepare your entry as an electronic word document, in English or Spanish, in a twelve-point font, including at the top: the author’s name, address, phone number, email address, age, title of work and number of words.
  4. Submit your entry by April 4, 2017 BY EMAIL ONLY to with #arttales contest entry# as the email subject line – together with a completed release form (see next item below).
  5. Complete a release form (forma de acuerdo). Parents must do this for youth entries under 18 – Save a copy to your desktop, fill it in, then save and send it along with your entry poem or short story.

A committee of professionals, educators, librarians and City of Ventura staff will judge entries on creativity, presentation and correspondence to a specific artwork to select their top three choices for separate poetry and short fiction categories in three age divisions: Youth (12 years or less) High School (13-17 years) Adult (18 years and up)

All winners receive a bound edition of the judges’ selection with cash prizes for first ($30) and second ($15) place. The Mayor of Ventura presents the awards in April or May during a library reading of works by contest winners: all contest participants, their families and friends and the public are invited to attend this special event where refreshments are served.

Qualified entries shall be (a) either a single short story or poem (one entry per person) (b) no longer than 500 words (c) written solely by the entrant (d) not previously published (e) nor in conflict with trademark, copyright, rights of privacy, rights of publicity or any other rights, of any kind or nature, of any other person or entity; (f) which does not include any language or other content that is indecent or inappropriate as determined by the CITY in its discretion. Entries not satisfying these criteria in any respect will be disqualified. By entering the contest winners agree to give the City of Ventura a nonexclusive license to publish their work online and in a limited edition.

BACKGROUND: The City of Ventura is pleased to sponsor the annual creative contest open to all writers worldwide in partnership with E.P. Foster Library located at 651 E Main St in downtown Ventura. The contest invites imaginative writers of all ages to compose a short story or poem (500 words maximum) inspired by one of the artworks currently on exhibit at the library from the Public and Municipal Art Collections. These selections from City Hall and other facilities are rotated annually to a special second floor exhibit space near the library’s rear (children's) entrance in an effort to make them more accessible to the community.

The Municipal Art Collection, on permanent exhibit in City Hall, continues to be an important attraction for both residents and visitors. Since its inception in 1999, the collection has grown to include 92 works by 71 artists, each of whom have made a significant contribution to the history of visual art in Ventura County – a main criterion of acquisition. The Municipal Art Acquisition Program through its Municipal Art Acquisition Committee, a sub-committee of the Public Art Commission, oversees the purchase of new artworks. The Municipal Art Collection showcases the breadth and diversity of Ventura County’s visual art community through the representation of multiple media, including sculpture, painting, photography, etching, and ceramics. The entire collection may be viewed online at For more information contact Denise Sindelar at 805/658-4793 or

ARCHIVE: Contest Anthologies & Documents - 2009-2017 Art Tales featured artworks

Art Tales 2017 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists artworks lesson plan & model poems

Art Tales 2016 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists artworks lesson plan & model poems

Art Tales 2015 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists artworks lesson plan & model poems

Art Tales 2014 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists artworks

Art Tales 2013 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists artworks

Art Tales 2012 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists artworks

Art Tales 2011 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists & artworks

Art Tales 2010 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists & artworks

Art Tales 2009 postcard exhibit  anthology  winners artists & artworks