Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stephen Powers: Part I

Location: Brooklyn, NY
December 2011

For the last month, ICY SIGNS has opened their doors to the public at 200 Livingston St. in Brooklyn, a space that serves as a sign painting shop as well as an exhibition of selected signs by Stephen Powers and Todd James from their work at LA MOCA’s “Art in the Streets”. On our last trip to Brooklyn, we were lucky enough to check out the space and meet Powers. ICY is the crew that he ran with in Philly back in the 80’s when he was still going under the graffiti writer moniker "ESPO". In a recent interview Powers explained that the pieces that made up the space were his “orphans”, work that reflected both some of his more recent romantic work as well as ones that hadn’t sold in the past. The location serves as a place for local Brooklyn businesses to have their signs revamped or created for free, which is quite fitting since Powers is a strong advocate of the area. We mentioned Powers’ newer work being more romantic than past pieces. You can see this in his projects in both Philly and Syracuse where he worked on charming signage that display phrases like, “If you were here, I’d be home now” and “You ever after is all I’m after”. A similar project, “Love Letter to Brooklyn” is just across the street from the ICY SIGNS location we visited, where Powers painted a vintage Macy’s parking garage with phrases spun from Dave Villorente, a resident of Brooklyn, well versed in graffiti, music and the culture of 80’s NYC. The garage also gives life to romantic pick-up lines reminiscent of the ones used in his earlier projects. Walking into ICY SIGNS transported us to a place we’d always wanted to go but hadn’t realized until we were there. Spending over an hour reading and re-reading signs, we were lost in the space and amongst the clever word play. These signs show care and craftsmanship, something lost amongst the sea of vinyl signs lining a lot of the streets today. The visit there gave us even more of an appreciation for what Powers does and the importance of a craft that is seeing a resurgence amongst young artists and graffiti writers.


  1. A freakin Legend.. Thanks for all the work youve done man. Spawk G.A.K. Phoenix