Community · Opportunities

2022 National Veterans Creative Arts Festival

2022 National Veterans Creative Arts Competition

PURPOSE:
The Department of Veterans Affairs annual arts competition recognizes the progress and recovery made through creative arts therapies and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of our nation’s Veterans.

THE COMPETITION:
Across the country each year, Veterans enrolled at VA health care facilities compete in a local creative arts competition co-presented by the VA and the American Legion Auxiliary. The competition includes categories in the visual arts that range from oil painting and leatherwork to paint-by-number kits. In addition, there are categories in writing as well as the performing arts of dance, drama and music. Local creative arts competition first place winning entries advance to a national
judging process and first, second and third place entries in each category are determined. Selected gold-medal-winning Veterans are
invited to attend the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival hosted by a different VA facility each year .

CRITERIA TO ENTER:

  1. Veteran artists need to be enrolled in VA Puget Sound healthcare system.  
  2. All entries must have been created within the previous year to current year of NVCAF event unless entering the Military Combat Experience category. (cannot enter something from 3 years ago). MCE entry can be an older piece of work and requires a written essay. 
  3. Consent Forms need to be filled out with the ok for photos, media, etc. 
  4. Veterans can enter up to 3 categories per division. There are 51 categories in ART Division for example, where artists can choose 3 out of 51.  Different divisions include Art, Music, Dance, Drama, Creative Writing.  
  5. Veterans must turn in paperwork and entry by the deadline of Friday, August 26th 2022.

HOW TO ENTER:

  1. Submit 2 JPEG photos of your art entry through email with uploaded entry documents to Jeanne.hopkins@va.gov           OR
  2. Attend drive-thru photo and submission clinic at either Seattle or Tacoma VA locations on dates below:

American Lake VA GYM Building 61

Wednesday, August 3rd 1-3pm GYM 61

Monday, August 8th 10am-noon GYM 61

Monday, August 22nd 10am-noon GYM 61

Seattle VA NEW MH building 101

Tuesday August 9th 10am-noon 101

Thursday August 2th 10am-noon 101

For questions and more information, contact Jeanne Hopkins: Jeanne.hopkins@va.gov

Submission deadline Friday, August 26, 2022
Poetry · Visual Art

Learning to Listen

by Melany Bell

Please enjoy this poem and images on listening, begat from my very own mind in 2022. Thank you for listening…
The images and poetry are by : ©MELANY BELL 2017-2022 all rights reserved  

Artist Statement:

I am an Ambidextrous Painter, Scientist, Step-Mother, Lover of Lady’s & their Others.
A Whore a Coward, Liar a Judas
A Free-dome seeking Teacher of Our collective Futures
Made to own Our GrandCestors spaces
reinterpretation of
Shape, Sound Frequency, re-speculating the birth of WE
I am the Word & World created on a stage, page, tone or face
Representing, & recreating a state of a Mind, for the race to BE Human.
I am Preaching Precious Story’s
Mirrors we’re constantly living up to reflecting on,
Herstory’s. Infinite iNtelligence too deep to be Respected
all to make rhyming come back
like when the Last Poets just met
When lazy Saturdays meant SMURPH’S
Prince had not yet worn their bottomless pants
I am UN-comforting white pages turned brilliant
With beats on the backs of breakdowns
An Ali of mental graphics
Shakespeare of word gymnastics
To art like butter to fat is
No attempt, just doing I.t.
ashe

Community · Mixed Media

Mental Health Awareness Month

Artist Statement: I am an ambidextrous Painter/Drawer, Performer and Writer as well as a Neurological Nutritionist. When doing nutrition, I specialize in the Gut. I put this PDF together for our Mental Health Awareness Month. This presentation is a great place to find information and learn about healing your GUT. The gut is the part that feeds all organs and systems of the Human Body. If we don’t take care of our Body, where are we going to live? Please enjoy a different kind of Art, the Art of healing!

–Melany Bell, CGP | FNTP, & Path with Art Teaching Artist
Writing

Another Planet

By Jason Larsen

Artist Statement: “In Samuel Corales’ Interactive Creative Writing Class this past quarter, he asked us to list three things that we would take to another planet and three things we would leave on Earth.”

Image courtesy of NASA

I have three Amazon Echo smart devices, and I would take them all with me to another planet.  The first thing is a regular Amazon Echo smart speaker.  The second thing is an Amazon Echo Show screen.  The last thing is my Amazon Fire Smart TV.  This is not the 19th century anymore.  It’s the 21st century.  This new planet is as futuristic as can be.  It keeps tabs on everything that goes on on other planets, including Earth.  My regular Amazon Echo smart speaker can allow me to listen to all the music and radio stations on Earth.  My Amazon Echo Show screen allows me to do that, and watch TV on Amazon Prime Video and IMDB TV as well.  My Amazon Fire Smart TV is the same thing, only in magnified form.

I also have a facial hair trimmer, but I would leave that on Earth.  My mom used to force me to shave every morning before I went to school.  She didn’t want me to look older than I actually was.  However, my skin is very sensitive now, and I can grow as full a beard as ever.  On this new planet, it will seem like it’s November forever.  My point is that looks aren’t everything.  Mr. Rogers and Martin Luther King once said that it is nothing specifically immaterial that should drive you to like a person.  Rather, it is the content of their character.

Poetry · Writing

There’s So Much About You I’ll Never Know

by Kristin

CONTENT WARNING: This poem references domestic abuse, family trauma, suicide, and mental health, and may be triggering for some readers.

There’s so much about you that I’ll never know
I inherited your bloodline and self-contempt
Yet I have so little information on who you really were

I remember your gregarious moods, getting the rest of us to laugh uncontrollably
I remember your jazz album collection, from Ella Fitzgerald to Buddy Rich
I remember your immersion in wine culture, the small vineyard and air-conditioned cellar

But most of all I remember the terror, violence and humiliation 
You unleashed on your wife and two small daughters
Time has given me perspective, but back then
I despised you, hatred consuming the young body I inhabited

When Mom broke the news that your dead body had been found
I cried tears for Mom, so in her sobbing, she wouldn’t feel alone
But I was glad to see you go

Your memorial service embarrassed me,
With your friends and colleagues gushing
What a good man you were.
I thanked them politely, thinking “If they only knew…”

1978, the year you gave up on life, was a long time ago
And now my hazy memories feel incomplete
There’s so much about you I’ll never know.

Written by Kristin


If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse or suicidal ideation, please check out these resources:

National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255

Crisis Connections (WA, King County): 866-427-4747

Short Story

Boots

A short story by George Beavis.

From the author:

I have been trying, emphasis on trying, to write about my experiences in Vietnam in a way that I hoped would be more understandable to other people. I think, or hope, I have learned some ways to do that. 

If I have it has only been the result of each of my classmates and the way they have approached each of the tasks and the creativity each has shown plus the encouragement of Michael January, Samuel and the other CM people.

Without their encouragement I would have just left it hanging and not put the effort into it.  It is by no means a work of art, but I feel good that I rewrote it, reworked it and the ideas. The encouragement helped me to keep going on it and I feel very good about that. Who cares about the story. Not me. I do care that I was encouraged and “finished” it!!!!

Boots 

by George Beavis

Watching the news and the camera panned over a dead body covered by a tarp. A foot with a brand new boot sticking out. 

I remember my laces were being pulled tight and wrapped around my ankle twice and knotted. 

After that, we knocked about for a while and then went for a walk. I got pretty wet and muddy. By night time we were back where we started. I was taken off the foot and set on the ground. That didn’t always happen. Sometimes we were so tired we were never taken off and set on the floor. 

Days marched by like that in an endless line until one day when we were out walking and a big explosion knocked us down. 

I woke up in a dark closet. When the door was left open I could look around. My partner, who I considered “Left” wasn’t near me. It got dark again and I was scared. After a while, my eyes began to adjust to the dark in the closet. I looked around and saw other boots lined up. Some singles. Some pairs. 

I just sat there all day for maybe months, so I was able to study the other boots even in the darkish light in the closet. Some were brand new and never really got a chance to even have their soles broken in. Some were badly worn, their toes all scuffed and scared, with their soles worn thin. 

A few boots away was a pair that were all spit-shined and regulation-like. Probably never worked a day in his life, you know the type. I bet he was fragged. 

Mostly we just sat in here and no one paid any attention to us like we had outlived our usefulness. One time someone came and got one of the singles, threw it in the trash then slammed the door. 

** 

I hated that locker. It gave me the willies. If I saw a boot belonging to someone I knew had died, I would throw it out. I didn’t throw out pairs ‘cause it seemed a shame when there was still life in them. When I got ready to rotate back to the states I snagged a pair that looked pretty new and stuffed them in my bag. 

I didn’t try them on until I got back home. I thought they might be good for camping or hiking. I wasn’t trying to be a poser or anything. When I put them on I knew I had made a bad mistake. All the lumps and bumps of the original owner’s feet were still there on the inside. Just walking around in them they reminded me with every step that they weren’t mine. I took them off and set them in the garage for a few years. Every time I saw them they would remind me of that bloody closet and all the dead boots. I eventually threw them out. They were just like an albatross hung around a sailor’s neck to punish.