January 2014 


WiVLA's Mission:
To provide an inspiring forum for women to explore and advance their creative development, to promote their work in the marketplace, and to infuse the community with their spirit of cooperation and invention.



Board Bites
WiVLA News
Reviews: WiVLA Holiday Market
Cafe Table
Announcements and Upcoming Events
Calls for Entries: Visual and Literary Arts
Calendar of Events

          A Note from Your President
"Write anew on each new day, a blank clean page to fill."
Happy New Year!  
2014.. The beginning of our 20th year of growth and learning.
Leading this unique group of spirited women for the second year shall continue to be a promising challenge. A bright energetic board of directors and advisory board will help me steer this organization with innovative opportunities and new ideas.

Each month WIVLA provides dynamic speakers to help enlighten the seasoned or beginning artists and writers to stay their course.
Our January program will begin our journey of continued creativity with a presentation from Gwendolyn Zepeda.
How exciting to have Houston's first poet laureate within our midst?
Gwendolyn lost a poetry contest in the third grade. This spearheaded the direction she took and the path that lead her to the acknowledgement and accolades she has now received. Please join us in welcoming her.

Our mission remains the same as it began March 1994.
We will continue to provide the forum for the magic of creative invention.
We invite you to share with us in solidarity.

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you are wonderful, and don't forget to make some art-write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year,you surprise yourself."  

With new resolution,
Cathy Nieman 

Cathy Nieman Head Shot

                                       I've Been Thinking . . .                                                      
Dear readers: 

I've been thinking about obstacles. 

This is the time of year when editors and journalists wax philosophical about the twelve months past and future.  They review political, economical, and cultural highs and lows, hoping to remind us of our resilience in a difficult world, a world littered with stumbling blocks and surprises, so that we can face the future with a modicum of optimism.  

Then we mere mortals lasso that optimism, lash it to the very center of our hearts, and make New Year's resolutions.  We vow to quit smoking, cut back on the booze, lose weight, or (my favorite) be a "better person."  Gym memberships soar, and it's hard to find an empty pew in your house of worship.  We answer e-mails that we previously ignored, or, even better, we clean out our inboxes.  We walk the dog more.  Heck, we adopt a dog.

And then something happens, usually around, oh, say, Valentine's Day. The devil of desire overcomes us, and we sneak a cig, which tastes even better with a couple of fingers of scotch.  Gym rats become gym ghosts.  We choose a movie over Mass.  The e-mail piles up, and the dog gets fat or burdensome.  We surrender him to a friend who, as it happens, is a better person.  So it goes, right?

I'm not saying anything new or profound here.  Sometimes we get snagged on life.  Bars get raised.  We have to jump through hoops and over hurdles, burn through barriers.  We face illness or infidelity, flat tires and financial setbacks.  Writer's block. (Even though Ann Patchett, in her new book, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, doesn't believe in writer's block.  As one of her students says, clearly she's never had it.)

But maybe the editors and journalists who make those ubiquitous year-end lists are on to something.  Those lists make us reflect, and reflection leads to introspection.  Introspection begets insight, and insight makes us stronger in the mind and in the heart.  When you're stronger in the mind and in the heart, you can juke around life's barriers like an all-star running back.  You can do just about anything, it seems. 

And so, I think, we should do whatever it is we do to make ourselves stronger in our minds and in our hearts.  Read great literature.  Gaze at the finest art.  Close our eyes and truly hear the music.  Write our own prayers.  Say them aloud.

Cathy Lachin


Board Bites:  December WiVLA Board Meeting


20th Anniversary Celebration

Planning for an exciting twentieth anniversary show and reception continues!  


The 2014 Board 


Incoming members will meet with outgoing members at the January Board of Directors Transition Meeting.  A board retreat will be scheduled in the near future.   


WiVLA Market 

What a fun event!  Read the review below.   

Exciting Programs
Your board has been brainstorming!  Look forward to month after month of stimulating programs in 2014.  As always, your suggestions for vibrant speakers are welcome.


Website and Newsletter Improvement

Both are goals for 2014.  If you think you have a great idea or want to help, do let a board member know.  Contact information is below.



January Program:  Gwendolyn Zepeda


WiVLA kicks off 2014 with another exciting program!  Author Gwendolyn Zepeda will join us on Tuesday, January 21, at the Museum of Printing History.


Gwendolyn Zepeda was born in Houston, Texas, in 1971 and attended the University of Texas at Austin. She was the first Latina blogger and began her writing career on the Web in 1997 as one of the founding writers of entertainment site Television Without Pity. She is Houston's very first poet laureate. Her debut book was a short-story collection called

To the Last Man I Slept with and All the Jerks Just Like Him (Arte Público Press, 2004).


Her first novel, Houston, We Have a Problema, won praise from Publishers Weekly and Booklist for its wit and upbeat story. Booklist calls Gwen's second novel, Lone Star Legend, "fresh and smart." Publishers Weekly says it presents "a funny and smart heroine that readers will easily pull for." Her third novel, Better With You Here, is the best yet.


Gwen has also written four award-winning bilingual picture books, including Growing Up with Tamales and I Kick the Ball.


Gwen lives in Houston with her family and cats. Her newest book is her first volume of poetry, Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners, from Arte Publico Press.  (From www.gwendolynzepeda.com



Meet WiVLA's 2014 Board of Directors
New and returning board members include:  Cathy Nieman, returning president; Jane Mulholland, returning vice president; Rona Lesser, returning secretary; Josena Arquieta, treasurer; Zita Giraldo, program chair; Joyce Marie, membership chair; Theo Billings, returning visual co-chair; Mary Baker (returning) and Tayyba Kanwal, literary co-chairs; Ima Oduok, social media chair; Cathy Lachin, returning newsletter editor; Cindy Rasche (returning) and Peggy Sexton, at-large. Many thanks to Cori Austin, chair of the nominating committee, for her dedication to matching open positions with enthusiastic members.  Positions that remain open include communications chair and historian, and the nominating committee hopes to fill them quickly.  The board meets on the second Monday of each month, with goals to uphold WiVLA's mission, to maintain fiscal responsibility, and to provide exciting opportunities for its members.  

                                Venue Suggestions

Please remember that any suggestions for venues for future shows or markets are always welcome.  WiVLA would like to continue to establish relationships with gallery directors and business owners throughout the greater Houston area.  If you think you can help extend our artistic reach, feel free to contact any of the board members listed below.  Thank you! 

Sketchbook Gathering





6:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. 


Join your WiVLA friends as we sketch, journal, paint, etc., in our sketchbooks. The gatherings thus far have been fun, relaxing, informative, inspiring, fruitful, thoughtful, humorous, generous, safe, adventurous, supportive . . .


Please join us Monday the 2nd.  If you choose to work in your sketchbook, that's fine.  If you want to use a different sketchbook or create on plain, separate papers, by all means, bring those.


If you'd like to work toward a completed sketchbook to submit to the Sketchbook Project, we will be happy to supply you with information regarding that.  Here's a helpful link:   


According to their website, "The Sketchbook Project is a global, crowd-sourced art project and interactive, traveling exhibition of handmade books. [Their] mission is to allow anyone to be able to participate in art and to create a collection of work that represents the current state of artists worldwide."


AND DON'T EVEN SAY, "BUT, I'M NOT AN ARTIST."  Because we have people from all kinds of backgrounds in our community -- poets, novelists, essayists, painters, sculptors, photographers.   We use the word "sketchbook" as a loose term for a record of our experimentation in creativity. Join tens of thousands of people in this global, traveling art library.


Just bring your supplies and a willingness to have fun breathing artsy air. We always come away with smiles on our faces.  Se y'all on the road!  


Gift Baskets in the Works for Twentieth Anniversary Celebration!

Wouldn't you love to own a piece of a fellow WiVLA member's work?  Or have a truly unique opportunity to promote your own creations? WiVLA's Twentieth Anniversary Planning Committee is pleased to announce its plans to create dazzling, art-centric gift baskets to be raffled off during our celebration in the Spring of 2014.  Details about ticket sales will be forthcoming, but, in the meantime, we are soliciting donations from our talented membership in order to fill the baskets.  Be imaginative -- any piece of your own creation is welcome, including 2D and 3D work in your choice of medium or media, photographs, books, altered books, chapbooks, framed or unframed pieces.  Zita Giraldo has offered to lend her boundless talent to assembling the baskets (we plan to offer three -- small, medium, and large), so they are sure to be lovely.

You may bring any contributions to the January and February general meetings.  Gift baskets have been both highly coveted and immensely successful in the past, so scour your studios, ladies, for the perfect piece(s) to donate! 

Liberty Mutual Comes Through for WiVLA Again


Last year, Eileen Collins, a Liberty Mutual insurance agent, made WiVLA a generous offer. For every member that asked for an insurance quote, her company would make a donation to our treasury. The members who took her up on the offer were pleasantly surprised to find that Liberty Mutual's rates were extremely competitive; many switched their insurance as a result. Reports from individuals who, unfortunately, have had to make claims are that Liberty Mutual has been responsive and easy to work with on all aspects of the process. This program was very beneficial for the WiVLA members who participated.


Now Eileen has made another generous offer to our organization. She invited WiVLA to join their affinity program and, after review, the board has accepted the offer. By participating in the Liberty Mutual affinity program, WiVLA is now eligible to apply for grants from them for special projects. 


In addition, we have secured exclusive group savings for our members of up to 10% off their insurance bill. Since doing business with them already means competitive rates, quality auto and home coverage, plus 24-hour claims assisiance, after-hours policy service, and 24-hour home repair services, getting a discount is a great bonus. 


If you want to take advantage of WiVLA's affinity relationship with Liberty Mutual, simply contact Eileen Collins at 281-320-1181 ext. 59053 or by cell phone at 832-248-7445. Like so many other WiVLA members, you will probably get a very pleasant surprise.



Review:  WiVLA Holiday Market   

WiVLA members, their guests, and patrons of Thompson's Antique Center had the opportunity to shop for unique, keepsake holiday gifts at the first annual WiVLA Holiday Market.  Shoppers at the day-long event browsed a singular collection of paintings, photographs, books and jewelry created by fellow members. 

There were 24 tables available for rent at the market, and they were snatched up quickly by enterprising creatives.  Participating members agreed that the camaraderie generated by the event (along with, of course, the sales) were truly a gift.  Let's thank Jane Mulholland and Theo Billings for staging the market!  May we anticipate another in 2014?    

Cafe Table  


This section of Voices is reserved for original, previously unpublished literary submissions from WiVLA members.  If you have a short piece, either poetry or prose, that you'd like to submit, feel free to e-mail it as a Word document to newsletter@wivla.org with Cafe Table in the subject line.  We'll make every effort to run your work.     


We're on Facebook!

Did you know WiVLA has a Facebook page?  We do, and we want you to LIKE us!


Our Facebook page is an excellent tool for informal communication among members.  Do you have a show coming up?  Post it on our page. Are you teaching a workshop or selling equipment?  Post it on our page. Do you have something to brag about or share?  Why not post it?


To find us on Facebook, click here, then LIKE us and post a greeting to all your WiVLA friends. 



 Winter 2014 Writing Workshop


Maryann Gremillion will lead an 8-week writing workshop beginning Monday, January 13th. The class meets each week from 10-1 in local coffee shops and writers' homes.  The class size is limited to 6, and a couple of spaces are available. The cost is $295, with a $50 deposit to hold a space.


Here's what WIVLA vice-president Jane Mulholland said after joining in the fall: Maryann is an exceptional teacher who supports each writer in moving projects forward. I wouldn't send anything out for publication without her feedback and editing skills.


Each group member works on a self-selected writing project in any genre, including keeping a journal. Class time is spent writing, revising, and getting feedback from Maryann and the group. She also includes specific exercises to generate new ideas/topics and to help with revision. This workshop provides a supportive writing community and is open to writers at any level. We have a lot of fun too!  If you'd like to join, email Maryann at
ma.grem@yahoo.com. You can also visit her website at www.writetruly.com.

Dodie Meeks will be the featured poet when Inprint Houston once again hosts the First Friday Poetry Reading Series on January 10, 2014.  Hear Dodie read at 1533 Sul Ross (a block from the Menil Collection) at 8:30 p.m.
Tayyba M. Kanwal's short story, "Mailee and the Saint of Horses," from which an excerpt was read at the WiVLA Earth/Energy: Through Women's Eyes exhibition, appears in the Fall 2013 issue of Quarterly West journal.  Read this fable of a potter's girl and the blind saint she loves here: 
Kudos to Tayyba!  
As the winner of the 2013 WiVLA Literary Scholarship, Anne Rita Taylor attended the Mayborn Literary Conference.  Anne has written a Zine about her participation in the Conference and submitted the Zine to another contest:  Art Exchange Program Zine Grant.  The winner receives 100 copies of their Zine plus $150.  You can read about Anne's Zine submission about the WiVLA Scholarship online at:
 Would you like to post an announcement? Send your e-mail
by the 20th of the month to newsletter@wivla.org.



Inclusion in this list does not indicate endorsement by WiVLA. We recommend you research each contest, and contact the sponsor(s). 


CAFE' for Artists!


CallForEntry.org is a website that lists calls for entries nation-wide.  Descriptions of type of art and theme are listed, as is a link for more information.  Deadlines are included.



2014 National Exhibition of Traditional Oils Call for Entry

Oil Painters of America will hold its Twenty-third Annual National Exhibition of Representational Oil Paintings, June 7 throuogh July 27, 2014 at Bennington Center for the Arts in Bennington, Vermont.

Approximately 30 awards will be given with a total value estimated in excess of $75,000, including a $25,000 Best of Show.  Juror of Awards is renowned artist Charles Movalli.  A full-color catalog will be available. 

Deadline for mailed-in slide submissions is January 31, 2014.  Deadline for online submissions is Februrary 7, 2014.

To enter, artists must reside in the U.S., Canada or Mexico and be a current member of OPA at an annual fee of $60.  OPA is currently accepting members for 2014.  Join now and receive the rest of 2013 for free.

National Exhibition entry fee:  $30 for the first entry, $15 for the second.  Maximum size unframed:  1200 square inches.  Please send your request for a prospectus in a SASE to:  Oil Painters of America, P.O. Box 2488, Crystal Lake, IL  60039-2488 or visit the website at

Looking for a Volunteer

Goldberg Towers, an apartment residence for the elderly and disabled, needs a volunteer to teach fused glass.  If you are interested, please contact Rona Lesser at ronales@wt.net. 


Inclusion in this list does not indicate endorsement by WiVLA. We recommend you research each contest, and contact the sponsor(s).  


Here's a tip from poet Catherine Rankovic:  "If you wish somebody would keep you up to date on the latest publishing and contest opportunities, the Yahoo Group Creative Writing Opportunities, edited and updated daily by poet Alison Joseph, is a must-see.  You don't have to do a thing but go there.  No signing in, discussions, donations, or anything:  Just postings with the info you want about first-book contests, poetry contests, fiction contests, online magazines seeking writers for theme issues, residencies, creative-writing jobs, and grants.  Most of the time with direct links to the source so you can obtain complete information.  You can subscribe to the postings or you can just bookmark it and go there when you feel the need.  I visit about once per week. "   


Here's the URL:   http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crwropps-b 



Seeking strong poems of human experience and personal reactions: 
Good-bye, Mexico:  Poems of Remembrance will be a poetry anthology of original work composed in response to the following question:  What do you remember about Mexico?    Publisher:  Texas Review Press                      Editor:  Sarah Cortez
Submission guidelines:  

 Deadline for submissions is February 28, 2014. 




Monday, January 13 at 6 p.m.

WiVLA Board Meeting  

Sosa Community Center

1414 Wirt Road

Houston, TX77055 


Tuesday, January 21 at 6 p.m.

WiVLA Membership Meeting 

Speaker: Gwendolyn Zepeda 

Museum of Printing History

1324 West Clay


For a complete list of upcoming events, visit the WiVLA calendar online.

WiVLA 2013 Board of Directors


President                     Cathy Nieman             wivla.cathyniem@yahoo.com

Vice President            Jane Mulholland          mulholland.jane@gmail.com

Secretary                    Rona Lesser                  ronales@wt.net

Treasurer                    Josena Arquieta           josena_arquieta@sbcglobal.net               

Membership               Joyce Marie                joy@LessonsFromLyrics.com 


Communications       [Open Position]                 


Programs                    Zita Giraldo                   zita@zitagiraldo.com

Newsletter                  Cathy Lachin                newsletter@wivla.org

Visual Arts                  Theo Billings                    visual@wivla.org

                                    Luisa Duarte

Literary Arts                Mary Baker                    literary@wivla.org   

                  Tayyba Kanwal 

Social Media              Ima Oduok                   ioduok@gmail.com  

At-Large                     Cindy Rasche               cindyrasche@yahoo.com

                                     Peggy Sexton       peggysexton11614@yahoo.com     

Historian                     [Open Position]                          


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