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Steve Powers

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Steve Powers
Stephen J. Powers (b. May 25, 1968) is a New York City artist who at one time wrote graffiti in Philadelphia and New York under the name ESPO (Exterior Surface Painting Outreach).
Powers is from Philadelphia's Overbrook neighborhood; he graduated from Robert E. Lamberton High School in 1987 and took classes at The Art Institute of Philadelphia and the University of the Arts. In 1994, he moved to New York with fellow writer and designer Ari Forman, in order to expand the reach of On the Go magazine.
He was most well known during the late 1990s for his conceptual pieces as well as his role as the editor and publisher of On the Go Magazine. ESPO's work often blurred the lines between illegal and legal. For example, pieces like "Greetings from ESPOLand"; utilized the style of the Asbury Park Billboards and appeared to be a legitimate billboard. On January 4, 1997 ESPO began his most ambitious non-commissioned art. He painted on storefront grates in Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant, TriBeCa and the South Bronx, covering the entire grate with white or silver paint and then using black to make each grate into a letter in his name. Powers painted in daylight, wearing street clothes; he told the New York Times in 1999 that when passersby asked what he was doing he would tell them, "I'm with Exterior Surface Painting Outreach, and I'm cleaning up this gate"; the official-sounding name, and clever acronym was enough to ward most people off. Powers targeted shops that appeared to be out of business and grates that were already heavily vandalized. He described his graffiti as a public service, and by 1999 said that he had painted around 70 grates.

Artworks by Steve Powers