I've been pretty gaga over Steve Powers for a long time, his work is dynamic on so many levels. But he upped the anté when he started his public mural project; A Love Letter For You in Philadelphia in 2009. Taking a time honored skill, like sign painting and breathing a different life into it is fascinating and inspiring. Especially on such a public level.
In today's post, good friend of the blog, Faythe Levine shares with us her visit with Steve Powers and crew as they paint a bridge in New York for his latest mural project; A Love Letter To Syracuse. This visit is the latest in Faythe's and her crew's documentation of sign painters all over the country for their up coming film Sign Painter Documentary. A big thanks to Faythe for sharing her visit with us! - meighan
Myself, Sam Macon (co-director) and Travis Aculair (director of photography) spent 4 days in Syracuse last week with Steve Powers and his crew while they worked on the massive project in the downtown area. Steve & I had only briefly corresponded via email so when we arrived to the location it was exciting to see him and his crew in action. They had already started work on three doubled sided train trestles that needed to be buffed, primed and then lettered. They operated with 4 lifts and a rotating crew of about 10 east-coast based painters.
Aside from operating as a large crew working on a busy street, the part of the project I was really impressed about was the community outreach that they did weeks before picking the language that was to be painted. They actually went door to door, stopped folks on the street and held community meetings to ask people who live in the Near Westside neighborhood what it is they love or dislike about living in Syracuse. From the information they collected, Powers formulated the final wording for the trestles that will become a permanent fixture within the landscape and destination point for the city of Syracuse.
I was also amazed from a coordinating perspective, considering the trestles span a major thoroughfare in the city. In order for the streets to be blocked the amount of permits involved along with permission from the train company that owns the actual trestles seemed wild. But the driving forces behind the project COLAB (affiliated with Syracuse University) and the Near Westside Initiative made it happen.
After spending four days in the area talking to passerby's while we were shooting, I got a feel for the neighborhood. Almost everyone stopped to talk, interested in what was going on. For Sam & I, this was a fantastic opportunity to see a form of contemporary sign painting shaping the way a urban space will look for years to come. I look forward to revisiting the area and seeing how this project may encourage other cities to consider positive messages to take over dead space.