Pulse: Chatter: The Arts: Love Is In The Air

The view from the EL has never been so sweet

Born-and-raised Philadelphia artist Stephen Powers loves this city. So much so that he spent his summer with the Mural Arts Program, painting a series of 50-some short love notes—like so many poetic text messages—throughout West Philly. Displayed on upper stories and street-level signs, visible via the El train from 46th Street to 63rd Street, the series conveys a love story between two young adults (and between a man and his city). It sounded charming to us, but we thought that noted Philly artists—and young couple in love—Kate Kaman and Joel Erland would offer a better critique of Powers’s Love Letter. Here’s what the experts think about Mural Arts’ biggest project to date. (You can also check out the peacock-inspired installation Kaman and Erland designed at the 66th Street station as part of SEPTA’s Art-in-Transit program; joelerland.com; katekaman.com).

JOEL ERLAND: “Some people project what’s in their heads, while others really listen to their surroundings. My guess is that Steve Powers listens really well to the community.” 
Kate Kaman: “I like this because it’s more of Philly than just one neighborhood.”
JE: “The style is old-school and retro, but I like that the messages are so modern.”
KK: “It’s more a pedestrian than a romanticized idea of love. It would be too sappy otherwise. This blends better with an urban environment.”
KK: “I’d be curious how Powers chose what spots to put them on, because most spots aren’t obvious.”
JE: “But what a sense of discovery when you do spot one.”
KK: “One of the best things about this is the sense of humor.”
JE: “People can really project on it. Like the one that says ‘I want you like coffee. I need you like juice. I won’t put you on the side like bacon. You can have me over easy.’ If you’re a little kid, it’s cute. If you’re a heroin addict, you want the juice.” 
JE: “There’s no punctuation, which bothers me a little.”
KK: “But because of that, you can read it so many ways.”