Monday, September 28, 2015

A Love Letter To You

A Love Letter For You by Steve Powers

Steve Powers
Powers, a West Philadelphian now based in New York, is a former graffiti writer who became a legitimate studio artist, illustrator, and Fulbright scholar. In Powers’ own words, Love Letter is “a letter for one, with meaning for all” and speaks to all residents who have loved and for those who long for a way to express that love to the world around them. He considers the project “my chance to put something on these rooftops that people would care about." The series all together expresses a love letter from a guy to a girl, an artist to his hometown, and from the locals of West Philadelphia. The series consists of 50 rooftop murals total. The Project was completed February 2010 and stretches on Market Street 45th to 63rd street. 

not part of Love Letter project <----- This one

"As part of the Mural Arts Project, we're not just painting murals to pretty the neighborhood. That's certainly part of it, but really the idea is to hopefully stimulate people to become more engaged and create change."

Do Murals Spark Social Change?
Another Germantown mural artist states, "If the mural is doing its job, it becomes like a keystone in the neighborhood; something to be proud of and something a landmark. Pretty soon, porches are getting repainted around it, trash is getting picked up, there's less graffiti and you can really see it becomes a rallying point for the whole neighborhood."- Nathaniel Lee

Founder and Executive Director, Jane Golden says "In the past 27 years, we have helped to show the dramatic impact that public art can have on neighborhoods, and we have demonstrated that Philadelphians across class, race and ethnicity want both beauty and artistic stimulation in their communities.”

Philadelphia is the second largest city in the world when it comes to murals. The largest mural in the world is housed at the Philadelphia International Airport. The Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia is a non profit organization that allows communities to come together are create something the surrounding neighborhood would enjoy. Their murals not only bring color and meaning to Philly neighborhoods but also help local artist and soon-to-be artist collaborate in designing and painting giant works of art. They have worked with artist all around the world, including Shepard Fairy, the well known created of Andrea the Giant's Obey brand. 
Steve Power's series of work is very typography driven. The color palette consists of bright, fun colors that have no business being in the surrounding area. The overall message of love is tame compared to other murals, whose voices talk of racial injustices and the famous icons that spoke the loudest. Power's series of typographic mural art is meant to be viewed with light hearted feelings and a generally sense of happiness. He sets the scene of  "a boy sends a love letter to a girl" with short messages that rhyme or use strong illustrations to get his meaning across.  
I agree that murals in general are a great way to make a community stronger. Steve Power's series of murals definitely brings a very positive feel. The juxtaposition of bright colors and strong typography next to dilapidated buildings brings a sense of regrowth to the area. My only criticism is that his work comes across as a Hallmark advertisement and paired with its surroundings might cause a disconnect to the average viewer. 
Spotting them on the Market Frankford Line would definitely bring the series as a whole together and it would make the scavenger hunt much easier to follow. But some murals as a single piece don't do it for me. Not every piece can be as powerful as the second image posted (the white wall with letter forms spread out to look like magnets). Some pieces are meant to be smaller and more intimate, and there is also the challenge of creating 50 different and unique murals, but I can argue that not all of Power's murals give me the message, or want me to research it further. 

With all that being said:
Is Steve Power's work decorative or can it allude to something more?
Do they mean as much compared to other murals of Philadelphia?

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