Steve Powers (ESPO) - Titled "Sarge" Acrylic on steel paint pan. Signed verso. Measures 16 1/2"x11 3/8" x 3 1/4".
Provenance: Street Market (with Barry Mcgee and Todd James) 2000 Deitch Projects New York: 49th Venice Biennale, 2001 Venice Italy. (Label Verso)
Before there was ESPO at Deitch, before there was Steve Powers in the Beautiful Losers museum show, and before the 5 figure canvases, there was Stephen J. Powers, born and bred on the grey streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was in Philly that the clever wordplays first began to crop up, and it was there that ESPO first made his mark with his conceptual text pieces.
In 1994, ESPO moved to New York where, using the visual language of billboards and sign painting, he brazenly worked in broad daylight, painting storefront gates and legitimate looking signage, pretending to be from the "Exterior Surface Painting Outreach" to any curious passersby. This sign work, coupled with his prolific graffiti sprees, made a distinct impression on the downtown community, where he began to show his work in galleries.
ESPO went on to become a Fulbright scholar in 2007, creating public murals in Dublin and Belfast, Ireland, and in 2008, he collaborated with renowned public arts organization Creative Time, creating a number of signage works at Brooklyn's Coney Island .
Today, Powers lives in New York with his wife and son and is a full time studio artist. He has exhibited at numerous galleries and museums, and devotes a fair amount of his practice to public art projects, the most recent of which involved a trip home, and was titled "Love Letter", an endeavor in which he and a crew of artists painted messages illustrating the ups and downs of relationships on 50 walls across Philadelphia.