He’s good at art, he’s good at music, and he can fix your turntable. That can only describe one man: Stuart Powers, owner of Stereo Discount, whose work is currently on display in the Main Gallery at AS220. We first wrote about Mr. Powers in 2016 when he moved his business from Angell Street to its current location right across the river on Taunton Avenue, much to everyone’s chagrin. We can take solace in the fact that he is not far away and quite happy there . . . more space . . . plenty of parking right out front.
His current show, Stu(ruins)art, will be up through September 30. AS220 describes it thus: “Through a playful use of vandalism and appropriation, emerges a series of works that center self-exploration and rekindled memories of adolescence.” Powers picks up previously painted canvases at Savers and Salvation Army and then adds his own figures and features. Where the name is discernible, he will give equal credit to the original artist. In the piece on the left below, “Submerged Providence, oils on discarded painting,” his contributions were the two buildings and the VW bus. The painting on the right features a little bear who first appeared in his love letters to his wife Melissa, and now shows up frequently in his work. The technique is similar to that of Wayne White, although White works with words.
I missed the gallery opening so I dropped by the shop this week to catch up. I’m afraid we spent most of my visit talking about dinosaurs, but not all of it.
PDD: When did you start doing art?
SP: I actually stopped doing art around 1983 and then just didn’t do it any more. I was way into it from my childhood up until my first year of college, then I decided I wanted to become a missionary and stopped doing everything . . . and then didn’t end up becoming a missionary. But then I became something of a patron of the arts, supporting all my wife’s artist endeavors and my kids’ artistic endeavors. They are actually very good artists; my eldest daughter Meg just graduated from the costume design program at the Yale School of Drama.
PDD: Was that the musician daughter?
SP: No that was Ivy [Powers used to drum in a punk/rock trio Doctor Baby with daughter Ivy]. Ivy is also a fantastic artist . . so like, everyone was going to be artistic but me! Then during Covid I got bored. I was way into that particular genre, painting monsters in thrift store paintings . . . I really dug it. I had some thrift store stuff around the house, grabbed my wife’s paints, and started doing something. If I was going to keep doing it, I wanted to find my own voice in it. My hook has always been trying to let other people now how I’m actually a jerk, I’m doing something very awful, I’m taking someone’s hard-worked art and just changing the narrative to one of my own. So I feel like I’m more of a graffiti artist than anything.
PDD: Are you still playing drums with anyone?
SP: The not-playing of instruments totally pushed me toward this making of physical art, because I didn’t have my artistic outlet. Usually I had several bands with which I could play drums and was able to work the creative side of my brain, but that had dried up during Covid and I didn’t have anything . . . so picking this up, I went kind of nuts with it.
Stuart agreed to pose with one of the many pieces hanging about the shop. This one had been featured in an earlier show at Heartspot Gallery which went very well.
Stu(ruins)art, now through September 30, AS220 Main Gallery, 115 Empire Street, (directions)
Stereo Discount is still stacked to the rafters with equipment and components, which he sells and repairs. Considered the best home theater store around, the phone number is still 521-0022.