Stephen Powers AKA Espo is the epitome of a Brookadelphian. He's a talented artist and his work can be seen in the heart of West Philadelphia and it's just one block away from where I grew up. In 2009, he decorated Market Street with messages of love for his "A Love Letter For You" project. He showed love for his adopted home with a similar project at the Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn aptly named, "A Love Letter For Brooklyn." Espo came up in Philly in the 80's and 90's alongside The Legendary Roots Crew. In fact, there is a video (below) of Black Thought rhyming and Questlove laying down a beat while Espo works his magic in the background.
Fast forward to today and Stephen's artwork can be seen all over the world. One of his most popular works is his project along the El train in West Philly. In 2009, Espo scaled rooftops along Market Street for the project. Not to be outdone, Steve completed a similar project at Fulton Mall in Downtown Brooklyn. The parking garage near Macy's is covered with messages of love. Snap your photos of the building while you can because it's scheduled for demolition this year. Espo's art is sign painting. But these aren't your typical "Do Not Enter" or "One Way" signs. Espo's artwork evokes feelings of nostalgia, humor and love. His work leads you home even though you may already be there.
This year Espo was commissioned by The Brooklyn Museum. He assembled a ragtag group of artists to come in and turn the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery into an tribute to Brooklyn's, Coney Island. And just like a true Brookladelphian, he gave a few nods to his Philly roots. "Coney Island Is Still Dreamland (To a Seagull)," has been a resounding success and it's been extended to March. After stalking Espo, (stopping by his Brooklyn shop and several emails) I was finally able to talk to him at his exhibition. We chatted about Brooklyn, Philly and building a four lane highway going from Brooklyn to Philadelphia.
Brookladelphian, Christ Scott is a talented chef who runs the restaurant, Brooklyn Commune in Windsor Terrace. Chris grew up just outside of Philadelphia in Coatsville. He moved to Philadelphia to go to Temple University. After spending about 15 years in Philly cooking with a who's who of the city’s elite culinary minds, he upped and moved to Brooklyn. He says, without much of a plan he landed a gig at CNN as it’s executive chef. That means he prepared meals for some of the biggest names on the planet. The Clintons and Nelson Mandela are just two of the big names he’s cooked for. Now, he can add me to that wonderful list. More on that in a second.
After a few years at CNN, Chris decided he wanted to strike out on his own. In 2010, he opened Brooklyn Commune with his wife. Brooklyn Commune is tucked away in one of Brooklyn’s remaining (sort of) secret neighborhoods, Windsor Terrace. With places like Brooklyn Commune, it probably won’t stay a secret for very long. Since its opening, Brooklyn Commune has been showered with (well deserved) awards and recognition. The success is helping Chris grow. He’s working on a new restaurant right next door named, Butterfunk Kitchen. It will incorporate two of Chris’s loves, food and music.
If the food at Brooklyn Commune is an indication of what's to come at Butterfunk Kitchen, Brooklyn needs to watch out. During my visit, Chris made me the avacodo and salmon toast and it was nothing short of spectacular. I have never had toast as satisfying as Brooklyn Commune's. After talking with Chris, it's clear he's all in when it comes to Brooklyn and looks forward to bridging the gap between Brooklyn and Philadelphia.