A Love Letter For You is a film that mixes documentary and narrative, love and loss, community and solidarity, art and crime, to paint a compelling portrait of two artists and their impact on the neighborhood they grew up in. The film documents the notorious graffiti legend, Stephen “ESPO” Powers as he returns to his old stomping grounds in Philadelphia to paint a series of murals on 50 rooftops along the Market train line. Joey Garfield, an award winning documentarian, teamed up with “ESPO” to create this film for his 2009 project with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. The film is a multi-faceted project and is sponsored by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative.
The project is physically in Philadelphia but it really speaks to everybody. A major part of filming was getting neighborhood people to speak up and share their thoughts on the topic and get their voices up on the wall. A Love Letter For You mixes a local cast with real-life characters as they rediscover the soul of West Philly and it’s dynamic community. The film also weaves in the fictional narrative of FIRE, a young graffiti king who is fresh out of prison on a quest to win back the love and attention of his ex girlfriend — it hones in specifically on how he strives to re-establish himself back in the world after a stint in prison.
The murals have garnered international attention and been published in a coffee table book, featured in a gallery exhibition and generated community education workshops. Similar projects followed in 2010 in Syracuse, New York, São Paulo, Brazil, and most recently Vardo, Norway, again incorporating community input and local talent.
Love Letter for Brooklyn takes a different tack by condensing memories from one single Brooklyn native, David Villorente. Villorente’s poetic statements scroll across the façade of the Macy’s garage, floor by floor, in a striking black-and-white vintage font used decades earlier in the utility signs installed throughout the structure. Love Letter for Brooklyn registers powerfully as both public and personal communication. As the artist noted in an “Art Talk” interview with Vice.com, “It’s the people that make the neighborhood and the people are always changing.”
For many, the hardest part about the insatiable desire to bomb, tag and make your mark on a city is the unsustainable lifestyle that it dictates. Unless you’re a part of that elite group that has made the transition into galleries, graffiti doesn’t pay the bills. However, there’s more than one way to sustain your practice: Powers discovered a new calling as a professional sign painter. Tweaking his purpose, Powers began to paint for the community rather than merely for self-promotion.
Oftentimes, Powers transposes words in old bromides to achieve the effect of new insight, such as “a word is worth a thousand pictures,” title of his recent exhibiton — Powers focuses on the word ‘ADORE’ — one word he describes as “being the base element in every great painting, ever.”
A Love Letter For You is having a special screening this Saturday, September 15 at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in New York City. Check-in time is at 8PM, screening begins at 9PM. Tickets are available online only. To reserve your ticket(s), click here: http://tinyurl.com/cnorwle
If you plan on visiting the famous murals in Philadelphia, you’ll want to check out the following site — it serves as a visual guide to get the best quality pictures: http://tinyurl.com/yduwrre
Also, check out Stephen Power’s latest art collection, his first solo show in seven years, entitled “A Word Is Worth A Thousand Pictures” currently on display at the Joshua Liner Gallery in New York City. Exhibition will run until September 29.
— Roz Baron
A Love Letter For You…
“A Love Letter For You” – Official Trailer