Stephen Powers2

Stephen Powers is a New York artist who is also known by his street moniker, ESPO. In recent years he has established himself on the international art scene with a body of work that reflects a fascination with graffiti, sign painting, urban marketing and con games of all shapes and sizes. Powers left college before his junior year to publish On the Go, a hip hop lifestyle magazine from his hometown of Philadephia. Publishing and editing would reduce his painting time to nights and weekends until the magazine folded in 1997. As a coda, he wrote The Art of Getting Over (St. Martin’s Press, 1999), a book about his personal history of graffiti. He began to plan a show that would combine his love for low-level commerce and contrast it with the high stakes machinations of the art world. The result of his efforts debuted at the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art with Indelible Market, a collaboration with artists Todd James and Barry McGee that featured a makeshift bodega filled with items that reflected what the three artists had in their personal stock; “Street Cred, Guilt, Shame, Class and Dignity.” etc. The show has since traveled to Deitch Projects in New York and the 2001 Venice Biennale. With each passing stop, Powers’ artistic prowess matured into a unique style that has merged his passions for both writing and painting.