Reading the Streets: Steve Powers’ ‘Love Letter to Brooklyn’
I’m glad I did. Even when the words appear to be straightforward, artist Steve Powers adds a little twist, something perplexing, but often funny and fascinating. Above the words “Onward and Upward” is a fist, which I expected to be rising up in joy or power, but on a closer look appears to be calmly holding a spoon. Instead of a call to action, it inspired a call to eat.
The piece, commissioned by Macy’s, was inspired by conversations with Brooklyn residents and Powers’s own time in the city. While based in Philadelphia, where he’s done a similar love letter series, he spent some time working in Coney Island in the 2003 and 2004. Before he received commissions for legal pieces, Powers was a graffiti writer who went by the tag ESPO. As ESPO, Powers painted poems on roofs and buildings in his hometown of Philadelphia and Syracuse. He also painted a series of quotes by ad man David Ogilvy onto the walls of the New York Ogilvy & Mather offices.
Wherever he paints, Powers is committed to the work remaining a reflection of the community it lives in. As part of his commitment to keeping it local, Powers and his collaborators even used rollers and house paint from a nearby Lowe’s.
Love Letter to Brooklyn is located on Hoyt Street between Livingston and Fulton streets in downtown Brooklyn.
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