Studio Visit: Stephen Powers

Mar 01 2017

Poster by Laura Mauriello

Our special studio visit on Thursday March 2 to Stephen Powers sign shop in Brooklyn is a highly anticipated event. Powers was known during the late 1990s for his conceptual pieces as well as his role as the editor and publisher of On the Go Magazine.

Through art he’s often blurred the lines between illegal and legal. He painted on storefront grates in Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant, TriBeCa and the South Bronx, covering the entire grate with white or silver paint and then using black to make each grate into a letter in his name. Powers painted in daylight, wearing street clothes; he told the New York Times in 1999 that when passersby asked what he was doing he would tell them, “I’m with Exterior Surface Painting Outreach, and I’m cleaning up this gate”; the official-sounding name, and clever acronym was enough to ward most people off. Powers targeted shops that appeared to be out of business and grates that were already heavily vandalized.

He described his graffiti as a public service. His love of sign art methods and techniques has made him one of the most influential street artists and sign archeologists in the city.