Here at WFMU we take our swag seriously and for this year's marathon we're excited to offer a new T-shirt designed by artist, comedian, Fullbright scholar and owner of one of the finest heads of hair in the visual arts: Mr. Steve Powers (aka ESPO). You can grab it here for a pledge of $50.
If you've been around New York long enough, chances are decent you've run into Power's work at one point or another. Some of my favorite pieces include his old "Art of Getting Over" mural on the corner of Great Jones and Lafayette (across from the old Tower books), his repainting of the Cyclone Roller Coaster in Coney Island in 2004 and the various trucks he's painted around town over the years.
The concept of "Graffiti as a public service" has always been a central theme of Power's work as has the intersection between art and commerce, particularly as it relates to the classic tradition of sign painting. Graffiti artists have long claimed that their work is a reaction against the intrusion of advertising into public space but more often than not their work tends to be a similar kind of visual noise. What I like about Power's work is how it jumps around between the worlds of "public art", graffiti, and advertising and how it always takes context and site specific elements into consideration.
ESPO's efforts to beautify Coney Island in the mid-aughts via a series of painted signs and walls were the beginning of increasingly ambitious explorations into public art which finally culminated in his sweeping "A Love Letter for You" project in Philadelphia. Over the course of a year, Powers powers led a group of 40 artists to create murals on 50 walls across the city while also opening a "sign school" to train area youth in the art of sign painting. Local businesses received free signage as part of the project to help round out one of the most impressive civic beautification projects in recent memory.