To Steven Powers: Heartfelt Prose Is Still Dreamland (To A Philly Girl)

During a whirlwind weekend trip to Manhattan this past January, I was committed to navigate myself via two NYC subways on a wet and dreary Sunday to the Brooklyn Museum. Determined to see the exhibit of one of my most beloved street artists, Stephen Powers (a.k.a. ESPO), I was on a mission — it was a BIG DEAL to see Stephen Powers’ work in such a well-respected venue!  After all, I’ve been a huge fan of his work for several years!  Initially, I fell in love with his A Love Letter For You mural project when I learned about it in 2011 (it was completed in Philadephia in 2010); and now, I’m extremely fortunate to read these testimonials of devotion twice a day during my commute on the Market-Frankford El through West Philly.

Powers’ installation, Stephen Powers: Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To A Seagull) consists of colossal collages and multiple layers which exemplify of his unique mastery as a language-based artist: the colorful, exotic, graphical and textual signs for which he is internationally known. As I studied each piece, one-by-one, from top-to-bottom throughout the expanse of the 5th floor high-ceilinged rotunda, my eyes carefully lingered on the seemingly self-directed messages that pulled me in, causing a visceral emotional reaction and a tug on my heart. Powers is a clever wordsmith and an expressive genius with a natural affinity to understand the reality of what it means to be simply human.

The installation also includes contributions by artists Justin Green, Matt Wright, Mike Levy, Dan Murphy, Mike Langley, Mimi Gross, Alexis Ross, Sean Barton, Eric Davis, and Tim Curtis.

Initially slated to close on March 13, 2016, the exhibit has been extended an additional 5 months (yay!) thru August 21st. I encourage everyone to see it — you will undoubtedly encounter a message to which you can relate.

A Self-Portrait of the Times

Times Square in New York City is a large commercial hub which is located at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenues, and runs from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. As one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, Times Square is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, drawing an estimated fifty million visitors annually.
A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of spending an entire weekend in Midtown Manhattan, including my first ever (!) nighttime visit to the iconic Times Square.  As I approached this famous landmark,  I was simply mesmerized at how bright the surroundings seemed due to the plethora of vivid lights, brilliant displays, and colorful advertisements — it seemed almost as illuminated as midday on a clear sunny afternoon!
Besides feeling a distinct reverence for the magnitude of the ornate and flashy displays, I surprised to learn that I was drawn more to the people who were visiting this well-known spot.  It appeared to me that most visitors were more consumed with photographing themselves as physical proof of being there, rather than actually enjoying the view and living in the present. It forced me to question, “Are we simply doing it for the photo?”
I admit that I’ve always been an avid observer of human behavior; I thrive on mentally chronicling people’s actions, and immensely enjoy the challenge of trying to decipher the motivations and possible choices behind them.  Using my camera as a tool helps me to permanently, and sometimes unobtrusively, document these moments.
Looking back, I realize that I don’t have any photos of myself from that evening in Times Square. To be honest, it never crossed my mind….Am I so consumed with my surroundings that I simply melt into the background and cease to exist? I wonder how many photographs in which I may have appeared, as a casual observer…in the background of just how many selfies.









Tattooed Mom – A home for the Philadelphia street art community.

Tattooed Mom is a South Street dive bar and home to the Philadelphia street art community.  Called “Tmoms” by regulars, it is a gathering place for street artists to promote self-expression by making and swapping their own works; it’s where tagging
nearly every inch of the bar is encouraged. I will present a photo essay on
Tmoms and the diversity of people it attracts, and how it’s patrons
demonstrate their kinships and artistic sensibilities. The environment at
Tmoms offers a sense of community and belonging for street artists and their
supporters who are hailed as both social pariahs and paragons.

Tattooed Mom is located at 530 South Street in Philadelphia.

Tattooed Mom is located at 530 South Street in Philadelphia.

At 10 p.m., the night was just getting started. People of all ages, ethnicities, and walks of life were found congregating in the front room.

Typically around 10 p.m., the night is just getting started. People of all ages, ethnicities, and walks of life can be found congregating in the front room.

Caption 3 here.

At the Friend of a Friend Street Art Mixer, artists came together to adorn blank stickers with their signature street tags. Artists, friends, and fans gathered and swapped their newly found treasures.

Caption 4 here.

At Characters Welcome 3: An International Sticker Show, this young street artist adorned a canvas with his personal artwork. This piece resulted in a tagged collaboration of several street artists, which is not only popular but increases the value of the work among collectors in the community.

Caption 5 here.

Patrons enjoy chatting or drinking a beer with old friends and new acquaintances.

Caption 6 here.

Homemade skateboard and underground graffiti and street art films can be seen in the back room.

The walls are emblazoned with event posters of all types.

Caption 8 here.

A street artist enhances the decor by tagging his moniker on the wall. This practice is not only allowed but encouraged.

Caption 9 here.

An artist draws his tag in a fan’s blank book. This is a popular form of obtaining an autograph in the street art community.

Caption 10 here.

Meanwhile, amongst the camaraderie, a quiet moment is shared between an artist and his companion.

Caption 11 here.

This talented artist paints his mural diligently on a corner wall.

Caption 12 here.

The crowd enjoyed observing the artists in action, as well as making new connections within the street art community.

Caption 13 here.

At the end of the night, many congregated outside for a smoke and a final farewell — until next time.