I recently crossed a milestone at 72 4th Avenue, 5 years in business selling art and keeping a door open for possibilities. Many of those possibilities are in the form of people that walk through the door with the impression that we recently opened, “I have never seen this place until today”. We’ve been here all along; It’s true we have a new sign and a more streamlined design, but you are walking in right on time.
What is a person but a possibility? What is art but the realization of what is possible? Every person that walks into ESPO’s Art World is potentially going to connect with my art and we are here to facilitate that connection. Sometimes it is a collector, but usually it is a passerby whose eye is caught by a color or a word, and they walk in off the street. Somewhere in the middle of the shop the possibility espies the possible and a circuit is complete.
In that completed circuit I’ll sense a perceptible spark, maybe a laugh or a phone drawn from a pocket, “can I take a picture” Yes of course, take them all! At that point we’ll ask where are they from and they say invariably and (in succession), “down the street” and “I walk past this place every day” and “what is this place?” I used to say, “it is what’s possible” but that just confuses people. So I say “This is a gallery dedicated to the work of one artist, Stephen Powers.” That is wrong, but it’s easy to understand, and frees people to take away the connection they made. As they go I encourage them to take a pack of ESPO matches, “Start something” I don’t mean burn, but strike a match, go start something new.
This is my idea of street art, Art that faces the street, and is a visible presence for the street to engage with every day. ESPO’s Art World is filled with the work of my life, literally wall-to-wall with the inventory of my daily existence, rendered in line, letter and color then put on view for you. I call it painting blues, a visual messaging platform. The only real objective for me is to make the personal universal, and the universal personal. It works best when I don’t say anything about the art and just let people tell me what it says to them.
Besides being a random visual honeypot for passerby to stumble over, ESPO’s Art World is a destination for people that saw the possible on a screen, and it moved them from their world to visit mine. When enough people arrived and told me what my work did for them, how it pulled them through trubulation I realized what I am really doing on “Forth” avenue.
ESPO’s Art World was never meant to be a gallery; originally it was a sign shop where you could get a sign or a print, then it evolved to what it was always meant to be, this cave filled with paintings. I always thought of my work as modern cave painting. Just like my cave-dwelling ancestors, I paint the life and times of the people, I don’t need to draw the hunt for bison anymore, I paint the hunt for love and understanding in a world of hate and confusion. theres never enough wall space to say it all.
People come to my world and take what they need for their own home, something to mark the time they realized a new possibility. The cave analogy worked best last week, when Matt and Jake set up the press and screen printed the You/Me graphic on any item presented to us. Some people came with museum-quality paper (i signed those, of course), but most arrived with tshirts and jackets. What was important was a hundred people came, and stood around our fire, a screen printing set up with an idea that burned bright like a match in the center of a dark room. If it gets dark and you need a light, at ESPO’s Art World, we got you, we are open every day 12-6pm and online all the time.