Visions of Life


Tony Ardizzone, award-winning author of The Whale Chaser

Dress Up is an evocative and impressively written story, with a pair of compelling main characters whose interactions are both moving and tragic. That these characters form a connection helps to make the story memorable and lively.

The author of Family Portrait took a fairly interesting oil portrait of a young girl and created a multi-layered world of characters around it, bringing with it generations of a family along with the family's history. The story immediately draws the reader into dramatic scenes and makes excellent use of realistic dialogue and idiom.

MGM650,, July 4, 2015

This is a terrific volume of five short stories, each of which centers around a painted selected by the author. I particularly like "Dress Up" by Ann Kammerer and "Sharing Daniel" by Douglas Macdonald. Dress Up is a powerful and well written story of a cross-dresser who struggles with his identity and personal relationships. In Sharing Daniel, the author tells the story of a woman poet who confronts a shocking reality about her boyfriend and must make a decision about the course of her life. The volume is very well edited and shows how art and the written word can inspire one another.

Irene Ryan Maloney,, July 6, 2015

This little book has some interesting stories in it. Cleverly put together by Ivy Sundell it reflects writers stories about certain works of art. The writers create the stories from only seeing the images of the art - what a great concept! Refreshingly clever! Good to take on plane ride! I did.

Kathy H,, July 8, 2015

Inspired by different self-selected paintings, these five authors illuminate life's journeys, covering loss, identity and transformation. Each was poignant and caused me to reflect on my own journey - a lot to ask from a slim volume by some very good writers!

Matthew Dahlman, Evanston RoundTable, August 12, 2015

Ann Kammerer’s “Dress Up” is the first story in the collection. It follows Eldon, a man plagued by dreams of cross-dressing and is one of the more powerful pieces in the collection. Ms. Kammerer does a compelling job of earning the reader’s sympathy for Eldon’s dilemma. Though it ends on a dark note, “Dress Up” is worth the read. The story is inspired by Eric Semelroth’s “Cross Dressing Draft Resister Who Chanted Hare Krishna for 7 Years,” a pastel portrait on paper that uses dark blues, shadows, and crimson lipstick to make the cross-dresser’s face pop out.

The next story, “Family Portrait” is inspired by Mary Barnes Gingrich’s “Girl with a Violin.” The oil on canvas painting is a portrait of a young, bespectacled girl holding a violin. The story was written by Joanne Freeman and deals with a shattered family. “Family Portrait” slowly unveils its world through a mother’s complaints and her daughter’s curt answers as they delve into what ruined their family. It feels like a chapter out of a full-length novel and the reader will want to turn the last page to learn more about what haunts the family.

PJ Minton’s “Just Float” is about an estranged father. Through the view of his second wife the reader watches Steve Banks desperately try to reconnect with his daughter. Every attempt he makes to amend for an unknown slight is rebuffed or met with silence. The story is inspired by Irene Maloney’s “Just Float.” The painting is oil on canvas of a man floating in an illuminated pool.

“Sharing Daniel” by Douglas Macdonald touches on infidelity, as Adrienne Paley begins to suspect her boyfriend, Daniel, is having an affair. At the same time she wonders about her future as a poet and how the looming threat of infidelity will affect that future. Mr. Macdonald drew inspiration from the painting “Heiress” by Evanston artist Gay Griffin Riseborough. “Heiress,” part of Ms. Riseborough’s “Dark Times” series, is oil on linen and features a kneeling woman in white and another woman in black anointing the former with a ball of light as a snake slithers across the floor.

Colby Vargas’s “Transform” ... details the titular transformation of Marcus. While the other stories deal with a major upheaval or turning point in a character’s life, “Transform” instead focuses on the aftermath of an event. It is more candid in its delivery of events than its peers and was inspired by Renee McGinnis’s “Savior Savings,” oil on a 23k gold leaf canvas of a man facing and pressed against a cross, as his shoulders are bathed in light.










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