Art Tales Writing Contest


Art Tales: the seventh annual writing contest inspired by art is now open!

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 1, 2015.
● Free and open to all writers worldwide  ● Prizes in 3 age categories
● To receive future contest notices sign up here and check the "Art Tales News" box under your profile

Artworks & Theme
Nothing reminds us of an awakening more than rain. ― Serbian poet Dejan Stojanović

During this year of extreme drought I selected works that ‘call for rain’ with every piece—acrylic, watercolor or glass—evoking water.—Tobie Roach, Public Art Projects Manager & Art Tales Curator

Click the links below to view and download reproductions of artworks, contest info and the required release form:
1) Jaquelyn Cavish, California Aqueduct, 2000, oil on canvas
2) Sally Miller, Incoming Sea, 2002, watercolor on paper
3) Richard Phelps, Big Blue, 1993, acrylic on canvas
4) Helle Scharling-Todd, Glacial Melt, 2004, laminated glass
5) All 4 contest artworks in one PDF, each printable on 8.5" x 11" sheets
6) Teachers and writers lesson plan with entry rules, background on featured art &  written models poems - see the archives below for past anthologies of winners in prose and poetry
7) Download to fill, save and send the REQUIRED RELEASE FORM in English or Spanish

TEACHERS: Contact Tobie Roach at 805.658-4759 or to request printed copies of materials.


  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 1, 2015 BY EMAIL ONLY to with "Art Tales" as the email subject line – together with a completed release form (see next item below).
  5. Complete a savable pdf release form (forma de acuerdo) – parents must do this for youth entries under 18 – copy the document to your desktop, fill it in, 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 (grades 2 - 8) High School (grades 9 - 12) Adult (age 18 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 Municipal Art Collection. These selections from the City Hall collection 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 - 2009-14 Art Tales artworks

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

Mayor honors Art Tales winners at EP Foster Library reception & reading on May 14, 2014

City of Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann will honor all participants and artists of the sixth annual Art Tales creative writing contest with a special reception and reading with refreshments at E.P. Foster Library, 2nd floor, 651 E Main St in downtown Ventura, on Wednesday, May 14, at 5:30 pm. The public, family and friends are invited to hear winners read their entries and receive cash prizes for 1st and 2nd place, journals for 3rd place plus certificates and bound editions for all top entries. The winners are:

Prize----------------------1-------------------2-------------------------3 Tie---------------------3 Tie / Honorable Mention
Youth Poetry------------Sihyun Na-------Nadia Connelly-----Anna Nelles-----------Chloe Vaughan
Youth Fiction------------Hana Vrablik---Abigail Carroll-------Bailey Welch-----------Niklas Shore
High School Poetry---Cianna Calia---Dahyun Na----------Olivia Loorz--------------Sarah Yenney
High School Fiction--Erin Stoodley---Gabrielle Genhart--Brodie Shore-----------Monica Boedigheimer
Adult Poetry-------------T. G. Lynch------Donna Prather------Mary Kaye Rummel--Honorable Mention: Joe Amaral
Adult Fiction-------------Toni Guy--------Annabelle Warren---Lynne Vrablik---------Gerald Zwers

Winners, judges and featured artists are requested to R.S.V.P. for the reception to Richard Newsham at or 805/658-4706. Winners, when responding please indicate your willingness to read your entries at the reading/reception: you may also designate someone else to read on your behalf.

For the 2014 contest “open to writers everywhere,” youth, high school and adult writers submitted 70 works of short fiction and poems inspired by City of Ventura Municipal Art Collection works of art currently on loan at the library and created by artists Jane McKinney, Alberta Fins, Katherine Chang Liu, Debra McKillop, Catherine Jessie Botke and Elisse Pogofsky Harris (some artists plan to attend the reception). Contestants ranged in age from 9 to 89 with submissions from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles, a few from the Bay area and one from the Philippines. Three-quarters of the entries came from City of Ventura residents, over half were by adults, 20 by teenagers and the remaining youth entries were often by Ventura Unified School District students, classrooms and teachers. The four contest judges were Senior Librarian for E.P. Foster Library Sara Roberts, Ventura Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Kathy Asher, Public Art Commissioner Susan Cook and City of Ventura Community Partnerships Manager Denise Sindelar who said, “So many excellent entries this year made judging very hard, with five tie votes, and an honorable mention in Adult Poetry to recognize the record number of 29 mostly outstanding entries in that category.”

Public Art Project Manager Tobie Roach said. “As curator of this year’s Art Tales display at the library, I say ‘thank you’ to the 70 writers from 9 to 89 who took up ‘the dare’ in this year’s contest to explore the darkness, hidden emotion, creativity and interplay between the known and the unknown as illuminated by Municipal Art Collection artworks I selected towards an underlying theme, ‘In Praise of Shadows.’ Carl Jung once wrote ‘in the very darkness of nature a light is hidden, a little spark without which the darkness would not be darkness.’ You really made these artworks speak through your poems and short stories giving us proof that finding the ‘little spark’ among the shadows of these art pieces can be a vibrantly creative, poignant and, yes, even funny exercise.”