Tag Archives: street market

CP Interviews Steve ‘Espo’ Powers about his graffiti installation collaborations with Barry ‘Twist’ McGee and Todd ‘Reas” James

25 May

INTERVIEW BY RACHEL MATOS. Introducing our second in a series of interviews and reviews by CP guest blogger Rachel Matos. An exhibited artist, educator and professional performer, Rachel studied at the School of Visual Arts and Columbia University, and has since worked for LACMA, Norton Simon Museum, The Guggenheim, The Met, The Bronx Museum, Montclair Art Museum, Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt and thePhiladelphia Museum of Art.

Nothing is more exhilarating than entering a museum space and feeling as though you are in another time and place. MoCA, as an institution, has been transformed into a small international urban space encompassing the histories of street art in its current exhibition ‘Art in the Streets’. In my opinion, one of the most captivating areas within the museum had to be Street Market.

The space felt nostalgic and new all at once. The installation is incredibly detailed, completely layered with neon lit signs that illustrate an urban wit that can only come from the genius minds of Todd ‘Reas’ James, Barry ‘Twist’ McGee and Steve ‘Espo’ Powers,  who brought in their own experiences from the streets of San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia.

A church front, a gated store and pay phone are just a few elements throughout the small avenues In Street Market. From this native New Yorkers’ perspective, it feels like Canal Street in the 80s and 90s. The visual language was very familiar to me. I had the hardest time stepping outside of myself and my childhood memories in order to view the show as a spectator.

I couldn’t leave the exhibit without digging a bit further so I decided to start an email dialogue with Espo. I can’t say it was the most in-depth conversation. But, our chat was certainly in the spirit of what this installation all about – Go see it yourself, create your own dialogue, and anything you need to know, really, is in the show.

RM: Do you feel the messages in Street Market lose or gain anything when the audience is from Los Angeles – a city known for being an urban sprawl?

SP: MOCA is in Little Tokyo and close to downtown LA, so I think it makes perfect visual sense in that setting.

RM: Are your signs and murals influenced by the context of the environment they’re in?

SP: Always

RM: What are your thoughts on traditional advertising?

SP: I steal from it what I need. And try not to get mad when they steal from me.

RM: When did you realize that letter styles of signage and info graphics would make for such powerful artistic statements?

SP: When God wrote on the wall in fire in Daniel 6:6

RM: When did creating installations to compliment the art, become the art itself?

SP: For me and todd? Circa 1999

RM: Can you leave the readers with your thoughts about the importance of having a collaborative approach to art?

SP: 3 heads are better than one. And a whole neighborhood is much better than 3! That’s the new math.

And there you have it. Is it because Espo is an artist that ‘three heads is much better than one’ sounds so profound? I mean, after all, collaborative efforts in art make for an interesting dialogue when multiple perspectives are married together. I tend to think so. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, as Espo’s verbiage would have me do so.

Either way, if you are one of the very few people who have not gone to see Art in the Streets, the show will be up until July 8th.