Steve Powers (ESPO) - "Study" Ink on paper.

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Steve Powers (ESPO)- Study on paper. Measures approx 8.5x11. Paper is from a working study complete with folds and some paper loss center.


Gordon Wayne Roberts created the tag Stay High 149, combined it with a smoking, halo-adorned stick man he borrowed from The Saint television show and changed the face of graffiti.  It's hard to imagine a trip through the subway system in early 70's without seeing his name a dozen times. Changing to his secondary alias, voice of the ghetto, around 1974 , ,he introduced the world to two and three toned markers that spewed rainbows of psychedelic cool. After a 25 year disappearance , a time during which many assumed him dead, he reappeared at a graff show in 2000 and soon launched a comeback that gave a new generation a chance to know and love his work. His tags had the rarest combination of style and meaning I've ever witnessed . High Maintenance is about paying back one of the most inspirational , yet humble cats to ever wield a marker. His spirit and legacy has touched every era of a culture that's blown up world wide. The artists who so generously donated their work for this benefit are giving their collective thanks to a man who transcended graffiti culture and in time be remembered as an American Folk Hero. All net proceeds from this sale will go to Stayhigh's Family.

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. 



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