There are many ways to make a city shine. Modern urban design increasingly chooses to make cities sleekly attractive. Walls are repainted starkly, olden businesses demolished, replaced. Space, vertical especially, is used to the utmost: tidy designs can make crowded areas seem more spacious. Sometimes, this route of modern & minimal, glass, white & steel, actually makes a city feel less livable. Overwhelmed by perfect robot beauty, people yearn for a human touch. Steve Powers helps. Beginning as a normal graf kid in West Philly, Steve started climbing and tagging roofs in 1984. His intent then was simple, understandable, admirable: to mark that he was there and do such expressively. Some struggle with 'vandal' graffiti, but even then he made the city feel cozier.
Few complained though upon his return 25 years later, for a public art project collaboration with The Mural Arts Program and the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. His style was now graphic design clean and his message simple love, community, embrace. He proceeded, in familiar fashion, to write messages across the rooftops of his youth overlooking the Market-Frankford line. His intent was to create “an open Valentine love letter for all to use,” at enormous scale, involving over 50 walls. The accompanying book, A Love Letter for You, documents this in full colour. This book, we promise, is beautiful, giving and honest—not lame, as expected, from publicly sponsored urban art.
Co-written with Ryan Eyraud.