Jim Power is a living example of the Etsy mantra, “Restoring community and culture”, so it fits perfectly for him to be the subject of this charming documentary on his work, produced by contributor Tara Young, the latest in the Handmade Portrait series.
Jim is a local artist who gave up his day job as a carpenter and began creating mosaic pieces atop East Village sign posts over 25 years ago, and continues to do so today. Jim’s works are recognised as stalwart of the local street art, a status that came into controversy when some of his works were destroyed in the “Clean Up The City” act in the late 80s to early 90s. But with the support and encouragement shown by the locals, who provided him with donations and a space to work, he has since recreated those works destroyed, and has begun to decorate even more on a daily basis (there are now over 80 posts with an induvidual mosiac design trailing through the East Village).
With his free spirited image and playful sense of humour, it is clear to see Jim Power is clearly an artist who lives through his community, as opposed to a graffiti tagger solely obsessed with the need to scrawl one’s name on every public surface available. The film questions the reasoning for destroying the works in the first place, wondering aloud how this happened at all, given the landmark status of the works. Power doesn’t bother getting too bogged down in it though; “When I’m done, I don’t see it, I’m dreaming of the next one”.
Adorably unpretentious, Jim Power describes himself as “homeless at the mercy of my talents,” and indeed the richness of each art work proves just that, both an individual story and a part of the wider testament to the rich history of the East Village. Power’s own associations within that community as both consumer and creator are crucial in his work, as they are both incredibly personal stories and also a reflection on the community and it’s development as a whole. In typical New York fashion, Power is unique in his work, but united in the culture that surrounds and defines him.