Stephen J. Powers, born in Philadelphia in 1968, is a New York-based artist. He made a name first as a graffiti artist in New York during the 1990s, under the name ESPO (Exterior Surface Painting Outreach). In the early 2000s he began working in his studio and exhibited at Deitch Projects, until the closure of the gallery in 2010. During the last eight years he has mainly been creating public works.

His work has been shown at the Venice and Liverpool Biennials in 2001 and 2002, respectively, and in 2008 Powers painted a love story in the streets of Dublin and Belfast. In August 2008, teaming up with Creative Time, he opened The Waterboard Thrill Ride, an animatronic depiction of waterboarding in Coney Island.

In 2010 Powers worked on a large-scale mural project in Philadelphia, entitled « A Love Letter For You » in partnership with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. This work involved painting 50 murals in West Philadelphia and it attracted positive reviews from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Powers told the New York Times that he was « taking the form of the murals, which are powerful for all the wrong reasons, and trying to retain some of the power and use it in a really good way ». In the same year, Powers first solo museum exhibition was at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Awards

2007
Fulbright Fellowship

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2015
CONEY ISLAND IS STILL DREAMLAND (TO A SEAGULL), site-specific installation organized by Sharon Matt Atkins, Vice Director for Exhibitions and Collections Management, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NYC, US

2013
VISUAL BLUES, Alice Gallery, Brussels, BE

2012
A WORD IS WORTH A THOUSAND PICTURES, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, US

2011
DAYS, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, DK

2009
THIS WOMAN’S WORK,White Walls Gallery, San Francisco, US
2 FITS OF IRON AND A BOTTLE OF BEER, White Flaf Projects, St. Louis, US
SEMAPHORES OF THE SOUL, Alice Gallery, Brussels, BE
A TRUE PROVIDER IS GOOD TO FIND COLETTE, Paris, FR

2008
SEPERATING LIGHT FROM DARK, Patricia Armocida Gallery, Milan , IT
SIGNARAMA DEITCH PROJECTS at Art Basel, Miami, US

2007
The Magic Word The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA.


2005
ESPO Bakery, Deitch Projects, The Armory Show, New York, US


2004
MY LIST OF DEMANDS, Deitch Projects, New York, US


2003
3 STORY BUILDING, Alleged Annex, Los Angeles, US

 

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2015
DISMALAND, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, UK

2013
MOST ODDINISM, Topsafe London, The Rotunda, Miami, US

2011
Contemporaries, Patricia Armocida Gallery, Milan , IT
Volta, V1 Gallery, Basel, Switzerland
Art in the Streets, The Geffen Contemporary, MOCA,Los Angeles, US
Status- Somewhere Between Position and Condition, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, DK

2010
Art Copenhagen, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, DK

2009
The New Yorkers, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen, DK
Get Over It, Show & Tell Gallery, Toronto, CA

2007
Lots Of Things Like This  curated by Dave Eggers, Apex Art, New York, US

2005
Love Letters (with Joe Armhein and Tauba Auerbach), Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco, US

2004
Beautiful Losers, Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, US (exhibition traveled to Yerba Buena ArtCenter, San Francisco, US; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, US; Triennale di Milano, Milan, IT; Le Tri Postal, Lille, FR)

2002
Session The Bowl, Deitch Projects, New York, NY.

 

 
Special Projects 

2015
SUMMER STREETS, NYC, US

2014
ASPHALT #1: URBAN ART BIENNALE, Curated By ALICE Gallery, Charelroi, BE

2011
Love Letter To Brooklyn Led 10 artists in painting words from the community across several walls in downtown Brooklyn

2010
VOLTO JA (I'll Be Back) Led 5 artists in engaging the Bom Retiro community to paint a mural that depicted the names of the residents of the neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sponsored by SESC.

2010
A Love Letter for You, Stephen Powers with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Philadelphia, US
Project Space, Moniker International Art Fair, London, UK

2008
Waterboard Thrill Ride part of Creative Time's Democracy In America Exhibition, Coney Island, US

2005
Service, (Canal Street Raincoat Project). Created raincoats for flyer touts on busy street in New York City, US

2004
Dreamland Artist Club, Creative Time, New York, US
Co-curated and participated in project where over 40 artists painted signs and attractions in New York landmark Coney Island, US

2001
Point Of Purchase (with Barry McGee and Todd James), Parco Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.

Street Market, 49th Venice Bienalle (with Barry McGee and Todd James) Venice, IT
5000 Trees, (with Cheryl Dunn, Jacqueline Humphries and Tony Oursler) Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco, US

2000
Street Market (with Barry McGee and Todd James) , Deitch Projects, New York, US
Indelible Market, (with Barry McGee and Todd James) Curated by Alex Baker
Institute Of Contemporary Art, University Of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, US

 
Commissions

2002
Waylon/Saul, Henry Moore Foundation, Liverpool, England.

Included in the 2002 Liverpool Biennial International Exhibition

Power Of Art, Artworks, Cincinnati, OH.

Created a narrative painting series for the Adolescent Care Clinic of The Cincinnati Children's Hospital while teaching teens in a studio setting.

 

Lectures
2010 "LoveLetters Philly and Sao Paulo" TEDxPhilly
2010 "Storytelling" 2010 PSFK Conference, NY, NY
2005"The Art Of Public Service. The Service Of Public Art," Harvard Graduate School Of Education Cambridge MA.
2003"The Story So Far," Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA.

 

Published Works

2010 Love Letter. Brick Valentines On The Philly Skyline Free News Projects, Philadelphia
2007 Studio Gangster, (catalog) Gingko Press
2006 First And Fifteenth Pop Art Short Stories, Villard, New York (Author).
2003 Stuck On The Map, Dan Murphy, Mark Surface Intl., New York (Publisher).
1999 The Art Of Getting Over, St. Martin’s Press, New York (Author).
1989 – 1997 On The Go Magazine , Philadelphia & New York (Publisher, Editor).

 
Bibliography (Selected)

"Love Letters to Philadelphia" Candace Jackson Wall Street Journal August 28, 2009, p. B1
"Wonderwalls" Ivan Solotaroff The Guardian April 18, 2010 p17

"Coney Island Sideshow Has Guantanamo Theme" Ariel Kaminer, New York Times, August 5th,2008, p D1.

"Still Painting Messages On Walls But No Longer An Outlaw" Niko Koppel, New York Times, May 29,2008 p B1

"Slicker Price," Rob Walker, New York Times Magazine, October 30, 2005, p 17.

"Flash, Dash, and Now, Art," Randy Kennedy, New York Times, June 17, 2005 p D1.

"Best Of 2001," Vince Aletti, Artforum, December, 2001, p 92

 

Education

1990-1992 University of the Arts Philadelphia, PA .