03/19/2010 - An art exhibition you can see from an elevated train—that is Love Letter, a series of murals along Market Street in West Philadelphia, and probably best seen by the El that goes up and down that route.
The project includes 50 rooftop and street-level paintings, each depicting a love letter from one person to another, from an artist to his hometown and from local residents to their West Philadelphia neighborhood. Sometimes a single message “jumps” from one building wall to another, with the El rider following it as the train moves on.
The collection, which garnered articles in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Wall Street Journal, is the brainchild of Steve Powers, Philadelphia native and former graffiti writer (known as Espo), who has become an established gallery artist, illustrator and Fulbright scholar; he now lives in New York City.
The murals were supported by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative and completed with the city’s permission (and that of businesspeople and building owners along the corridor), in partnership with the city’s Mural Arts Program, which is supported in part by Pew’s Culture program and the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services in Philadelphia.
More than 30 artists participated. In addition, Powers recruited residents to help, and the Mural Arts Program offered a course in vinyl art painting, with students creating new signage for businesses on Market Street.
Love Letter is slated to be documented in two books, a film and a gallery exhibition. To download a map of the project so that you can take the tour, visit www.aloveletterforyou.com or www.muralarts.org. You can also follow the project on Twitter@aloveletter4u.
This article appeared in the Spring 2010 issue of Trust magazine.