The man behind the mosaics

Meet East Village artist Jim Power.



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  • Jim Power at work

  • TONY's Photoshop composite

Jim Power at work

Photographs by Roxana Marroquin

You probably recognize the image on our cover and homepage this week—and that was the point. Jim Power began his trail of mosaics on neighborhood light poles 22 years ago, and his work has since become an East Village icon. Our photo composite of one of these real mosaics (photoshopped with yellow letters) is an homage to Mr. Power, whose creativity and DIY ethic represent what his home has come to stand for. “I started this project to identify the East Village as an art colony,” the artist tells TONY. “I was given permission in 1988 to do 80 light poles, to represent the world and the history of this area and where people came from: the rocks stars, Charlie Parker—I don’t want to leave anyone out, there’s too much history here.”

He finished only about 68 of them, and thanks to decay and destruction (Power blames Giuliani), fewer than 20 still exist. In the past few years, he’s been restoring and cleaning those, but he’s hoping to raise enough money to hire a crew and complete his project once and for all. “Being famous isn’t helping me out,” he says. “I can’t get the politicians in this town to give a damn. I just wish I could fulfill what I set out to do.

To donate to Power's project, email him atnycjimpower@aol.comor use his PayPal account, jimpower. And mark September 12 on your calendar; Power will be participating at a block party on St. Marks Place between First Avenue and Avenue A; stop by to say hi, make a donation or find out what he’s up to next.--Billie Cohen

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