Brooklyn-based Artist Stephen Powers sure has been making the art scene a whole lot brighter since we first saw his hilarious and thought-provoking signage on display in Chelsea Art Galleries. Last summer, Powers teamed up with New York’s Department of Transportation for a temporary public art signage project, and he also increased his global profile as one of the many collaborator’s whose works appeared as part of Banksy’s Theme Park Art Installation, Dismaland . That must have been fun.
Now through August 21st, 2016, Stephen Powers responds to the visual vernacular of Coney Island in his very fun exhibit Coney Island is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull) at the Brooklyn Museum.
Coney Island is Still Dreamland is a site-specific installation of signs and paintings from ICY SIGNS — a traveling sign shop and an ongoing collaboration between Powers and other sign writers. At a time when computers dominate the industry of sign production, the project revives the art of hand-painted signs. The signs look commercial, but the combination of everyday images and pithy phrases offers only emotional goods.
Here’s a video I shot at the Museum last Sunday, which will give you an idea of the scope of the project that still photos cannot really capture. There are four, floor-to-ceiling boards full of colorful signs that you can pour over for hours! All signs are hand painted by Stephen and the ICY SIGNS crew, and you can even watch a video of the installation going up, which is fascinating.
ICY SIGNS was initially conceived with the advent of the Dreamland Artist Club – a public art project in which Powers and more that 40 other artists created custom signs for the games and rides of Coney Island. “Everyone [involved in ICY SIGNS] has an emotional investment in Coney Island,” Powers explains. “We value that by making work [that’s] as fried, greasy, sweet, cheap, fun and flashy as any other experience you can have there!”
Stephen Powers interest in hand-painted signs grew out of his early work as a graffiti writer under the pseudonym ESPO, and was furthered by inspiration gleaned from the seaside community. This is the latest of nine iterations of ICY SIGNS, which has been exhibited in numerous storefronts, museums, and galleries in both the US and abroad.
You can visit permanent locations of ICY SIGNS in Brooklyn, and in Powers’ hometown of Philadelphia.
Enamored with the unique style of painting that was born in and defines Coney Island, Powers uses the style to depict his own life and times. These paintings capture what he calls “The eternal now of New York City.”
In addition to new pieces by Powers, the installation includes works by Justin Green, Matt Wright, Mike Levy, Dan Murphy, Mike Langley, Mimi Gross, Alexis Ross, Sean Barton, Eric David and Tim Curtis.
Be sure to watch the Video where Stephen talks about the relationship between ICY SIGNS and Coney Island. You’ll get to see a lot of the art being created and it’s very interesting to watch it all come together. Plus, Stephen Powers seems like a cool guy. Near the end of the video, he says something like “As long as you can see the ocean, and get a hot dog, it’s still Paradise.” I like it.
This installation was originally scheduled to close on March 13th, but has been extended into August, so you have plenty of time to check it out!