For artist Scout/Pines, the street is a canvas. The Chatham, New York-based artist surreptitiously places his stencil-art paintings on abandoned buildings in distressed communities. There, they usually disappear fast—unscrewed by collectors or lucky passers-by.
His pieces—painted with spray paint or house paint on reclaimed plywood or old metal—depict real-life people on the periphery: the have-nots, the overlooked, the marginalized. He tries to place them in historical context, in neighborhoods similarly forgotten and neglected but where the art will have meaning to people living there.
A painting done in tribute to the victims of the Charleston church shooting, for instance, went up in Harlem. “It was two or three in the morning,” Scout/Pines recalls. “I waited until it was quiet to put it up. I heard this woman yelling ‘Excuse me.’ She followed me down the block and was very persistent. She said, ‘Did you put this up here?’ When I said I did, she said, ‘I love it. It’s beautiful. Keep doing this.’
“That’s why I do what I do—that’s what I hope happens,” Scout/Pines says. “The images are usually very positive and colorful. I try to make them uplifting images—it’s an offering to those areas.”
Scout/Pines, née Brian Buono, first got into street art while working in the screen-printing department at the Capital Region independent record label, Equal Vision. There he met co-worker Chris Stain, now a muralist in New York City. “We had the same interest in skateboarding, punk art and graffiti. He was an old school graffiti writer who had gotten into stencil art. He taught me how to cut stencils,” Scout/Pines says.
The same DIY ethos and punk rock subculture that drew Scout/Pines to street art also inspired him to play drums at age 15 in his buddies’ punk band, even though he had no experience. Known as Glee Club, they toured all over the Northeast in the late ‘80s-early ‘90s. Buono later played drums for 10 years in the Albany indie band, Beef.
“If you hit the drums hard enough, people won’t notice that you can’t play them,” Scout/Pines says. “That’s part of what punk rock taught me. Art’s a little scarier because it’s just you and your paintings. You are laying yourself bare.”
Scout/Pines brings his work out of the shadows and into a gallery for a show of new paintings that debuts at TSL Time & Space Limited in Hudson on May 14 and runs until June 30. The show opening is Sat., May 14, 5-7 p.m.