graffiti

Love Letter to Philadelphia

From the Wall Street Journal: Love Letter to Philadelphia.

“I saw this as an opportunity to reclaim the space on these rooftops and reexamine graffiti,” said Mr. Powers, who grew up in West Philadelphia but now lives in New York.

A former graffiti artist, Mr. Powers used the neighborhood as his illegal canvas as a teenager and young adult. Now 41, he has had his work shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Deitch Projects in New York and the Venice Biennial. Last summer, he caused a stir with an installation piece at Brooklyn’s Coney Island that was a statement on waterboarding.

The murals were done with the city’s permission, in a partnership with Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program, funded by a $260,000 grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative. Mural Arts, a government and nonprofit hybrid, was started as an antigraffiti initiative in 1984 and has since commissioned more than 3,000 murals and other works of public art. Mr. Powers first came into contact with the organization when it tried to recruit him as a teenager, though he refused to join.