The work of Steve Powers is about as straight forward as it can be, on one level at least. On the other level it’s steeped in subtlety and conveys much more than the words at first glance say. He will be working with Select Art Fair in Miami of this year and we are happy to now present you both his work and interview:
Please introduce yourself, where are you from, how long have you been an artist?
Stephen Powers, the Overbrook section of Philadelphia, I’ve been making marks since I was 3.
You now live in NYC, correct? Select Fair? Is this your first time working with them? Or being in Miami for Art Basel?
I live in greenwich village, I’ve been in miami for a few fairs, and once on my own, painting on collins ave without permission in the daytime (with a brush).
What was your first piece? What was the first piece you were proud of? What were the mediums of each of those pieces?
I associate the word piece with graffiti, and the first piece I painted in graffiti was in november of 1984. The first good piece I painted was on a roof at 52nd street in west Phila in 1989.
There’s a lot going on in your current pieces, how do these pieces come about? Do you work on them one at a time? Do you have a full idea of every disparate element before beginning the piece or do ideas come to you as you work?
I generally paint one element at a time. I have a pile of paper with ideas scratched out on them that I rifle through to find things to paint. It’s visual song writing, finding one lyric at a time.
Tell us about working with enamel on aluminum, what do you like about the medium? How are you limited by it? What other media have you used? Is there any kind of emotion or expression that you would consider inherent to the different media you’ve? Or is that dependent on the artist? How does your use of enamel on aluminum reflect your persona, both artistically and emotionally?
I love enamel, I haven’t found any limitations. It’s a fast medium for fast expression. If I’m not using a brush I’m using a ball paint pen. i feel like if I’m painting, I’m singing, and if I’m drawing with a pen I’m talking. Enamel on aluminum is shining, vibrant, direct, and while very flaw is on display, it looks perfect. For all those reasons I find it very human.
Your work is very frank, very straight forward, not simplistic but simple, at the same time there is a wit and depth to it. What has drawn you to such delivery? A lot of your current work seems to be about love or a significant other, ‘If you were here I’d be home right now’, ‘I’m up waiting for you’… Has love been a constant theme for you throughout your time as an artist? Is it a particularly strong focus now?
I like to make paintings that focus on the messy business of life. Love is the basic ingredient of life, and so thats a major component in my paintings, also work, food, beverages, trouble and triumph all have a place in the frame as well.
What pieces are you bringing to Select Fair? Is this your first time working with them? Or being in Miami for Art Basel?
I’m painting the front of the Catalina Hotel, I’m writing a love letter to miami beach in deco pink aqua and black.