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October 21, 2014
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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.


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 (www.cafedevine.com) 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 (www.artsallincesite.org) 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.”

Since I could not say it better, I’ll let the gallery’s words state the obvious, while adding that gallery director Rocky Pinciotti went above and beyond while hanging this exhibit, since I found it stunning to look at from any angle. Undoubtedly, Pinciotti had plenty of assistance and I tip my hat to all. The Lilliputian display runs through December and while I give it a (big) thumbs-up, don’t take my word for it, but go see for yourself. Since all of the work is also for sale, it could be a perfect opportunity for holiday shopping.

If it’s true that bigger is indeed better, then the BrookHouse Gallery (www.brookhousegallery.com) in Barryville should be another artful destination, since one of the goals of the gallery is to make art accessible (and affordable) to everyone, according to artist-in-residence David Bush, who strolled through the gorgeous space with me, pointing out works by various artists, including pottery by Carolyn Duke, who is featured in “The Autumn Show,” on exhibit through December 10.

As I commented that the variety of artistic expression was stimulating and well priced, Bush stated that “by showcasing local artists whose work is outstanding, if folks couldn’t afford to take it home, the gallery would be a museum, rather than a destination to discover pieces that can be taken home and enjoyed by anyone.” Along with Duke’s unique pots, BrookHouse is currently showing the paintings of Bush, James Hawley’s jewelry, the “Felt Artistry” of Laurie Stuart, Ellany Gable’s ceramics and the sculptures (both large and small) of Janet Rutkowski, Walter Kenul and Tom Holmes.

Observing sales taking place at the opening reception, Bush’s motivation seems to be playing out and the admirable concept of “shop local” appears to be in full swing everywhere I travel through the various counties that I haunt on a regular basis. While art is subjective, it’s clear that it comes in all sizes and is all around us, in joyous abundance!