TEDx Speaker Series: Performing for the Arts

By Dom Fonce

(Pictured above) James Shuttic presents his paintings.

Artist James Shuttic and poet Ron Book will collaborate on a performance piece for TEDx Youngstown in January.

Shuttic is the founder of the Warren Arts Center and the owner of Shuttic Arts with his wife Julia. He graduated from YSU with a bachelor’s degree in painting and returned recently to obtain an associate’s degree in drafting and design.

“I’ve been drawing for only as long as I remember,” Shuttic said.

Book worked as a substitute teacher for 12 years before getting his master’s of fine arts in poetry at Ashland University. He also founded the Rust Belt Poets and Writers Group.

“[It’s] a nonprofit organization. We have monthly readings at the Trumbull Art Guild on the third Wednesday of every month,” Book said.

Their performance will draw attention to the importance of high school arts programs.

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Ron Book pictured above.

“It’ll be myself reading poetry, [Warren G. Harding High School] senior Alina Howard playing the clarinet and James Shuttic will be creating his art,” Book said.

He said if it weren’t for arts in high schools, he wouldn’t be writing poetry, Howard wouldn’t be playing music and Shuttic wouldn’t be an artist.

He said the first things academic institutions cut are their arts programs.

“It’s even creeping into colleges,” Book said. “Look at the University of Akron, they cut away their student creative writing publication.”

Shuttic and Book met because they both participate in local art shows.

“It’s all due to networking,” Shuttic said. “Ron would show up at my shows and events. We just clicked. We have the same mindset. We like to surround ourselves with creative [people] without an elitist view. Art, to us, is more about the process of creation — it’s about having fun — not just the end product.”

They said Warren has seen an art renaissance in recent years, with shows often set up on the downtown square.

“A lot of local artists picked up a do-it-yourself attitude,” Shuttic said. “We found that a lot of people in the art world are dismissive — controlled by old mindsets — so we took the attitude to make our own opportunities. We got to the same mental place, and I think this attracted a lot of local and even big city artists to come support the Warren art movement.”

With their performance, they want to show people that “everyone can do it.”

TEDx Youngstown will be held on Jan. 22, 2016.