Up against the wall

Stephen Powers, whose 1992 “Kill the Bull” can still be seen at Fifth and Huntington, takes his streetwise art inside for the ICA’s “Wall Power” exhibit.

Jane Golden started out as a graffiti-buster, turning Philadelphia “writers” into legitimate muralists and Philadelphia into the mural capital of America through the city’s Mural Arts Program.

Native Philadelphian Stephen Powers managed to avoid her influence, and now “improves” metal security grates across New York with his bold tag “ESPO” (Exterior Surface Painting Outreach).

Both of their efforts will be showcased during “Wall Power,” a citywide celebration of mural art organized by the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial and the Mural Arts Program.

The ICA’s “Wall Power” show, which opens May 13, features “Indelible Market,” a site-specific installation by Powers, Barry McGee and Todd James, that takes the urban environment as its canvas and makes its mark on it, reproducing what McGee terms “the cheerful hell of urban life.” And for those who suspect that graffiti is really a form of advertising, the trio will confirm the suspicion with billboards “advertising” the ICA exhibit at three area intersections..

The ICA also is showing Joseph Bartscherer’s wall-sized photographs of a mature forest. A portion of “Forest” will also be reproduced on banners in the main hall of 30th Street Station, thus mixing the natural and man-made environments.


“WALL POWER”: May 13 through July 30 at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 118 S. 36th St.; the Fleisher Art Memorial, 709-21 Catharine St.; 30th Street Station and various sites around the city via weekend trolley tours. ICA hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission $3, students/artists/seniors $2, ICA members/children 12 and under/PennCard holders/all visitors before 1 p.m. Sundays free. Info: visit www.upenn.edu/ica or call 215-898-7108.


Originally published on May 4, 2000