Capital New York: Steve Powers' Post Graffiti
Steve “Espo” Powers is a man of the streets, to say the least. After over 20+ in the NYC graffiti game, in recent years Powers has focused his talents towards a larger scale. With projects like his “Love Letter To Brooklyn” and his “Train to Always”; Steve Powers’ murals have brought a new life to desolate, industrial corners of the 5 boroughs. Capital New York give an in depth look into Steve’s transition from his days as a graffiti vandal, to his current take on public art and urban renewal.
“Powers grew up in Philadelphia and moved to New York in 1994. He may still be best known by his graffiti moniker, ESPO, although he stopped writing graffiti in 1999, and soon after that took up sign painting. He has since exhibited his signs and sign-like canvases at the Venice and Liverpool Biennials and at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Deitch Projects, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among other galleries and museums. (Jeffrey Deitch, now the director of MOCA, has been one of Powers’ greatest art-world champions.) As a 2007-2008 Fulbright scholar, he painted murals across Dublin and Belfast with the assistance of teenagers from local housing projects.
“ESPO got his start writing graffiti as a teenager in the 1980s, but it was his work in the mid-‘90s that cemented his reputation as one of the most consequential figures in the last pre-millennial generation of writers. During this time he founded the seminal magazine On the Go, which published photographs of graffiti from across the country, introducing writers from previously unconnected scenes to one another’s styles; it was through On the Go that he met Villorente, who was then covering graffiti for The Source. Powers’ best-known graffiti pieces from the era eschewed immediacy and clamor for a subversively quiet style. Some disguised themselves so well in advertising tropes that they escaped the inspections of most passersby, including Giuliani’s anti-graffiti police corps. His c. 1996 “Greetings from ESPOland” piece on Bedford Avenue and South Fifth, which mined a travel billboard aesthetic and depicted visions of urban crime and drug use, is perhaps his most famous work to use this sneaky approach.”
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Text: Kenny Beats
Source: What You Write via Capital New York