Quantcast
Channel: Paper RSS Feed
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 7783

For Sign-Painting Guru Stephen Powers, Perfection Is Standard, Mistakes Cost Extra

0
0
icysigns1.jpgFor the past year, famed street artist and sign painter Stephen Powers has been busy creating brightly colored signs and original artwork on a quiet stretch of Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn's Boerum Hill neighborhood. This month he's creating an ICY Signs outpost at the Joshua Liner Gallery in Chelsea, where the fruits of his sign painting crew's labors will be on display. The exhibition's title Perfection Is Standard, Mistakes Cost Extra, is the mission statement of ICY Signs, and that is evident in Powers' work, which keeps the artistry of the nearly extinct hand-painted sign alive, from the slick commercial lettering of a grocery store advertisement to a homespun storefront sign.

icysigns2.jpg
Powers at Icy Signs photographed by Rhiannon Platt.

The show includes the work of Powers and his seven coworkers -- Justin Green, Matt Wright, Lew Blum, Dan Murphy, Alexis Ross, Sean Barton and Mike Lee. Gallery visitors can hang with the guys as they work, seeing what a day in the life at ICY Signs is like. Powers, who says he's like the "big brother" of the exhibition, enthusiastically rattles off his fellow signmakers' creative attributes. "Matt Wright paints these really awesome bashed-out supermarket signs. They have a pathos in them of the working man's life. Mike Lee does geometric paintings. His sketches are as good as Sol LeWitt's. Sean Barton will find some crummy sign, some scribbled out "You took my parking space" sign, and make this beautiful gold-leaf sign out of it. He takes this really raw, low-budget thing and turns it into this elegant, majestic [piece of art] that could be in a side hallway of the Vatican." Powers' colleagues create works that mesh well with his own playful aesthetics, which come through in his clever image-and-type pairings, like a screenprint hanging in ICY Signs of an upright bowling pin that reads, "the job is getting up again." 

The installation will also continue to function as a business, creating logos for local establishments who could use a little fresh paint -- free of charge. "I'm going to go to the oldest most rundown deli and paint a beautiful sign for them," Powers promises. "Or maybe the taxi stand that's repairing cars. Or maybe the scrap metal place that's hanging on down the block."

icysigns3.jpg

(l-r, top to bottom): "Half Rent Hero" by Stephen Powers, 2013; "Untitled" by Mike Lee, 2013; "Bad Alphabet" by Matt Wright, 2013; "Muslim Cell Phone" by Dan Murphy, 2011.

Associated with the DIY, punk-inspired "beautiful losers" crew, which included artists like Margaret Kilgallen, Mike Mills and Barry McGee, Powers got his start in the East Coast graffiti scene under the name ESPO, or Exterior Surface Painting Outreach. Though his well-documented pack of bubblegum tag, declaring the artist "fresh" can still be seen in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan -- it's sign painting that has brought him a more legal form of success: "I could write the most beautiful elegant graffiti and people would think it was nothing," he says. "Whereas, I could do a crummy sign that even if it's spelled wrong, people will have a genuine appreciation for it across the board."

Perfection is Standard, Mistakes Cost Extra runs through November 16th at the Joshua Liner Gallery, 540 W. 28th Street, New York.

Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 7783

Latest Images

Trending Articles





Latest Images