Scott Stanton, a former professional skateboarder turned community artist, began painting over five years ago when he went to a gallery in Grand Rapids where he saw a art piece he greatly admired but couldn’t afford.
He saw the price tag and thought “I can do that” and began to create art based around historical figures and community leaders.
The moniker Panhandle Slim was born.
“I’ve been doing them for a while and I use to just hang them up on a telephone poll and some would stay or disappear, It almost became like a treasure hunt. People would find them and get them,” Stanton said.
Around five years ago community leaders were interested in his art to help spread positive messages in areas that are particularly prone to violence, especially gun violence.
He and other community members began finding buildings to place the pieces and by the time they were done. They had over 30 works of art across east and downtown Savannah.
Stanton’s works are what most would consider to be folk art. They feature a portrait of a famous figure followed by a quote from them. They are also vibrantly colored and painted on a board.
“A lot of people were like “nobody going to know who that is” and “you should do more popular people” and I’m like that’s exactly why we should do them. We know about MLK and the man who created the peanut butter but let’s get deeper,” Stanton said.
For Stanton it was important to him that his work be something real, opposed to something made to sell.
He is also dedicated to the educational part of his art. His focus is often on black historical figures because many people “never learned black history and white people certainly haven’t learned black history.”
Stanton sells his art “from a dollar to a million dollars” and often does pop up shops where he will go to a location then advertise it on his Facebook.
“I’ve never had this fear of worrying about how to do it like everybody else or know the rules…it’s rooted in love and reaching out to people and connecting us all on a human level,” Stanton said.