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December 5, 2023

AGN Spotlight Series 4

Ted Staunton — Jessica Outram — David Shewchuk on process & passion

Article and images by Bill Hornbostel

Stepping up to the mic, Ted Staunton greeted the crowd, paused, and asked, “What was I supposed to do?”

The crowd laughed, and Jessica Outram said, “Your process, your story and passion.”

“OK, lets do a song!” responded Staunton to more laughter.

Ted Staunton

That’s how Spotlight Series 4 kicked off at the Art Gallery of Northumberland on June 9. Outram, Cobourg’s Poet Laureate, emceed the evening with Staunton, a writer and musician, and David Shewchuk, current concertmaster of The Quinte Symphony and touring violinist, fiddler, and composer.

With the main exhibition of the AGN as a backdrop – Elayne Windsor’s A Way of Walking – Staunton and Shewchuk interwove music, humour, and the occasional serious statement about their process at the fundraiser for arts education programming. Staunton focused on his folk music style, while Shewchuk was a one-man band with a cello, a violin, electric guitar, and a looper which allowed him to build up multiple layers of instrumental music.

In a brief interview before the event started, Staunton said, “There are a few things more important than that in the educational sphere. The arts prepare you for everything, and what better venue than in the Art Gallery of Northumberland? We’re surrounded by visual art, we’re talking – just spoken word – we have a poet introducing us, there’s music.”

Jessica Outram

During intermission, Outram said, “What a great night, for us to be able to gather here together to celebrate the arts and to shine a light on the importance of arts education.”

Pointing to the exhibition of student work of members of the AGN Youth Council in the foyer (featuring works by Taylor Burke, Ava Liao-McDonell, and Ella Brouwer), Outram said, “I love that our youth are here tonight. I think that’s really special and important and that we have multiple generations who are gathered tonight to reflect on the importance of the presence of arts in our community, and arts education.”

After the event, Shewchuck said, “It’s a thrill just to be playing concerts again and people are so appreciative, especially now, and having it in a beautiful, intimate setting like this is a real treat. To be surrounded by art is really what it’s all about.”

Elizabeth Palermo, organizer of the Spotlight Series events, said afterward, “Spotlight Series captures musical and performance art in a snapshot, the way that stories and memories and human experiences can be captured on canvas. And that’s what feels really good about being back in the gallery right now.”

David Shewchuk

“I really love connecting artists and audiences in any which way, and definitely, we want a broad reach,” adds Palermo. “But we’ve got a really interesting thing here happening, like a beautiful thing here. It’s intimate; the intimacy really works. Each time we start blank slate, we invite the artists in – they have carte blanche – and the magic just happens because they’re invited to do something just on a different scale.”

For more information on Ted Staunton, visit tedstauntonbooks.com.

For more information about David Shewchuk, visit davidshewchuk.com.

Spotlight Series will return again in the fall; all funds raised by the events go to specialized arts education programs for children, adults, and seniors.

For more information about the Art Gallery of Northumberland or to arrange a time to visit, you may visit their Web site, artgalleryofnorthumberland.com, or call 905-372-0333. You may also follow the AGN on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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