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#BigVespa Drives Art onto State College Street Corner

by on August 01, 2014 6:00 AM

"Why?"

That's what Sam Bard wanted to know about the latest addition to the State College art scene.

He was staring at a very large sculpture of a Vespa, one of those scooters you see zooming around town.

The 16 foot tall artwork, titled appropriately enough, "#BigVespa," was installed at the intersection of Beaver Avenue and Fraser Street on Wednesday.

Bard was taking a break from his job in State College when he strolled past, wide-eyed. "There's nothing wrong with it," he says. "A Rodin statue is more my taste in art ... for the State College environment, it fits."

Gina Hurny was walking down Beaver Avenue Thursday afternoon when #BigVespa took her by surprise. "Well, it got my attention when I came around the corner, she says with a chuckle. "I'm curious about what it's promoting."

#BigVespa is the work of William Snyder III, a State College-based artist, who holds a MFA from Penn State. The inspiration came from personal experience.

"I used to have a scooter and it It got backed into and totaled," he says. "I always loved the shape. I was just working on some drawings and I really liked the shape."

There's no hidden meaning here. "This is just for fun," he says.

As we've pointed out, #BigVespa is indeed big. Why did Snyder make it so large? "Why not," says the artist, laughing. #BigVespa is made out of aluminum so it's not especially heavy, weighing in at 239 pounds. It took Snyder about a month to build the piece.

Snyder and his wife Julie have three sons. He's heavily involved in art and sits on a public art committee that's not associated with the borough. Snyder's art has to take a back seat to his full-time gig -- he works as a business manager for several area companies. Snyder says he also serves as president for the Penn State School of Visiual Arts Alumni Group.

You may have noticed this sculpture before. Snyder first displayed #BigVespa during the Arts Fest, leaving it "parked" in a lot near Heister Street. He started discussions with borough officials, wondering about the possibility of leaving #BigVespa on display.

State College Public Works Director Mark Whitfield says the borough plans to install some kind of art at the intersection of Beaver and Fraser, but not until after the Fraser Centre project across the street is finished. #BigVespa will fill the void, albeit temporarily.

Borough Manager Tom Fountaine "granted permission to display it up until about the end of October and then it will be taken down," says Whitfield.

Snyder says, "I have permission to leave it up until Thanksgiving -- unless I sell it first."

A sign listing the sculpture for sale was posted next to the #BigVespa, but Whitfield says it had to be taken down because it's public property.

Snyder doesn't want to put a price tag on his work, saying that anyone who's interested in buying #BigVespa should give him a call. For more information you can visit the artist's website at www.williamsnyderiii.com.

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Steve Bauer is Managing Editor & Chief Content Officer at StateCollege.com. Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy. You can e-mail Steve at Steve.Bauer@StateCollege.com and you can follow him on Twitter @SteveBauerSCcom
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