A creative combination

Sticks, Strings and Paint puts music to canvas
Scott Pukos
One of the post-show paintings

It started when artist Lorraine Staunch got a call from a stranger. On the other end of that cold call was percussionist Drew Worden. He saw Staunch’s artwork at Press Coffee, and got an idea for a collaboration. Staunch—an energetic performance art veteran—didn’t waver in her answer. “Absolutely,” she told Worden over the phone.


Staunch was the final piece for Sticks, Strings and Paint. The “sticks” portion includes Worden and his fellow Detour Percussion member Sam Um. The “strings” portion consists of two members of quartet442: Elise Hughey on cello and Lauren Cauley on violin.


Sticks, Strings and Paint made their debut Saturday afternoon at the TheatreROCS Stage at Xerox Auditorium. It was an intimate setting, and creativity ruled the hour-long show.


The show began with Hughey and Cauley playing an arrangement called “Passacaglia” on one end of the stage, while Staunch stood on the opposite end and started applying her acrylic paints to a blank canvas. After the show, I asked her if there was any game plan for the art going into the show. Staunch said she picked certain canvases based on the musical selection, but from there, she let the sounds guide her painting. The sound of the strings definitely seemed like a strong instigator for creativity too. (In fact, I’m heavily considering recruiting anyone who wants to play this type of music live for me as I write the rest of my Fringe Festival blogs.)


As the violin and cello finished the first act, Um and Worden ran down the aisle, onto the stage and gave Staunch a whole new inspiration for her second piece.  She painted a total of four pieces—each one with its own flavor. One of my favorite things about this type of art is that if ten people look at it, you’ll get ten completely different descriptions, and all of them will be correct. I kept looking at one piece in particular and couldn’t shake the descriptive phrase "Pride Rock during the apocalypse" from my head.


The show continued with different combinations of musicians playing while Staunch danced and painted. A few selections featured just the musicians, including a fun performance by the percussion duo that even featured some miming.


It’s hard to get a handle on the current perception of classical music, but Hughey said the goal was to forget any previously-held notions. Their plan was simple: to make classical music a blast. And it worked—one of the most apparent things about the performance was how much fun the group was having together. The crowd got a kick out of charming moments like Worden playfully plucking a string on Cauley’s violin at the end of one piece, or Staunch and Worden’s interaction during an ad-lib segment of the show.


The four musicians recently teamed together to soundtrack a children’s book written by a local author. In general, I love the idea of sound-tracking literature, and it’s a concept that absolutely elevates the experience of reading for children. The music here is for a Halloween-themed book by Nannette Nocon called When the Sun Goes Down. I’m told the score is appropriately spooky.


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Categories: Explore – Top Story