Stephen J. Powers (b.1968) is a New York City artist who at one time wrote graffiti in Philadelphia and New York under the name ESPO ("Exterior Surface Painting Outreach"). ESPO's work often blurred the lines between illegal and legal. 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. In 2000 Powers gave up graffiti to become a full-time studio artist. His work has been shown at the prestigious Venice and Liverpool Biennials, as well as numerous shows at New York City's Deitch Gallery.
This week's 'On the Streets' focuses on the subtle humour and finer elegance of street art. The pieces that caught our attention, located mostly in NYC and London, are all conceptually fresh, original and have something of a Duchampian aura.
Leading off is this brilliant Jilly Ballistic 'Exit' paste-up somewhere deep in the Brooklyn subway. Well-known for her intelligent, full of humour interventions, the artist continuously put thought-provoking anti-advertisements or into fine-looking collages, not being afraid to speak out; pasting stickers of gas-masked nurses and WWII soldiers. The result is more than satisfying. Image via the artist.
Other notable pieces come from Mobstr in London, Pose and Joei Urato in NYC, Cyrcle in London, Anthony Lister in Melbourne, Nunca in Paris and Borondo back in London.