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Stephen Powers

American, born 1968

Running Home,

Public Artwork Details

Currently on View


431 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, New York



Location: Fitz Books and Waffles, 431 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, New York (Get Directions)

Stephen Powers (American, born 1968) is a Philadelphia-born, New York City–based artist. While writing graffiti in the 1980s and ‘90s, Powers adopted the moniker ESPO, standing for “Exterior Surface Painting Outreach” and also a play on the artist’s initials S and P. His practice evolved from graffiti to studio works but maintains a strong connection to the hand lettering of midcentury American sign painting. His work has been shown widely and he has been included in the influential exhibitions Street Market at Deitch Projects and Beyond the Streets, the documentary Beautiful Losers (2008), and a solo show at the Brooklyn Museum. In 2016, Powers appeared on the cover of the art magazine Juxtapoz. “In 10 years time,” they wrote, “Stephen 'ESPO' Powers's name will reside next to Crumb, Robert Williams, Basquiat, McGee, and Warhol as those who truly changed the way art is defined and displayed.”

In 2018, Powers visited the Western New York area on multiple trips, gaining insights into the region and creating a series of artworks including this work. Powers is an avid collector of objects that reflect sign painting history.  The base of the artwork is a sign Powers salvaged. It was originally designed and built in Buffalo, New York, for a real estate company in Newark, New Jersey. When Powers acquired the sign, the neon had been removed. He retrofit the sign to hold his own neon. Powers fittingly chose his “Running Home” motif for a work that returns a vintage sign to its place of manufacture in Buffalo.