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Good things come in small packages

Marion Kaselle’s short story “Shadow King” had the crowd breathless during the Yarnslingers event at Café Divine in Callicoon, NY.

November 24, 2011

While the old adage is often true, the opposite (the bigger, the better ) carries some weight as well. I spent the weekend balancing the two, while careening through the Catskills appreciating various art forms, regardless of size.

Speaking of expressions, “the most wonderful time of the year” probably means something different for me, since it’s not Christmas, per se, but the abundance of creativity, art and goodwill that resonates as I observe the exhibits, displays, pageants and shows that pop up throughout the holiday season. Although I am most often a casual bystander, every great once in a while, I actually participate. This past Friday I did just that, joining my fellow “yarnslingers” in a storytelling event held at Cafe Devine ( in Callicoon, NY.

The absurd early blizzard a few weeks ago kept the yarnslingers at home and for a moment, we all thought that our “true ghost stories” would have to be shelved until next Halloween, but fate (I mean Patti Devine) stepped in and gave the group a space to spin our tales. A packed house mingled at the café while the assorted short stories unfolded. One of the elements of this group that I love is the constraints placed on the writer—in this case, the number of words (just over 500) that they are allowed to use. It’s a challenge to create a beginning, middle and end within those parameters, but local authors Ann Finneran, Kalika Stern, Kazzrie Jaxen, Ramona Jan, Patti Zins, Marion Kaselle and Maura Stone joined father/daughter team Jason and Jill Rahm (and me) as we slung (is that a word?) the yarns in funny, sometimes touching and widely different forms. Mine was kinda boring (IMHO) but at least it was brief.

Moving on to more small things, the Alliance Gallery ( debuted its annual “Art In Sixes” show in Narrowsburg over the weekend. Dubbed a “small works exhibition,” this show is comprised of works no larger than six inches in any direction. Once again, imposing constraints on artists appears to challenge them into working overtime in the creativity department, making this year’s exhibit (ironically) bigger and better than ever. With over 200 pieces in all, the program sums it up by saying that “it is the innovation and quality of the work that keeps the exhibit fresh each year. The underlying beauty of the collection is the wide variety of mediums represented.”