The latest work of public art by William Snyder III has added a big splash of color to downtown State College.
In late August, Snyder completed the mural on the southeast corner of the Pugh Street parking garage. Snyder, who is responsible for the "Wild Geese" mural on Humes Alley and "Be" behind the State Theatre, was commissioned by the borough to do the painting. This time around, Snyder decided to base the work on a drawing by another local artist, jewelry designer Wes Glebe.
Snyder said he had seen drawings Glebe has done as a means of stress relief and was captivated by them, wanting to scale one up into a mural.
"It’s a really great piece to elevate another local artist, Wes Glebe, whose been in town for decades," Snyder said. "He’s a very fine jeweler, makes wonderful jewelry, and I hadn’t known he did these drawings until recently. I think it’s great to honor and elevate his work."
The 50-foot high mural is the tallest work Snyder has ever done. He completed it over the course of eight days in August with the help of Jason Huber, facilities coordinator at Happy Valley LaunchBox, and Ciara Halloran, a real estate agent with ReMax Centre Realty and an artist herself.
Snyder mapped out the blocks and did the design freehand, and with the help of his assistants and a 60-foot boom lift, used professional grade spray paint, which he said provides good color and adhesion for the textured concrete surface. Navigating the electrical and data wires nearby while high in the air was "nerve-racking," Snyder said, so he was glad to have help in completing it quickly.
He said that large works of public art help in the progression of downtown State College.
"It’s a significant size and it takes us one step closer to a kind of actual urban space," Snyder said. "Because the borough was leading that, it’s showing the progressive nature of downtown and us moving forward to embracing some of these differences. For me, making big pieces like this I hope it inspires people to think differently about anything and try to take some risks and go after stuff they want to do."
Snyder is drawn to public art because of its ability to bring a fresh perspective to the ordinary and inspire imagination.
"I love how art can transform a space," he said. "I also think it opens up people’s imaginations to really look at the ordinary, things maybe we’ve gotten used to and accept as they are. Doing big public pieces on walls to refresh them and bring new life to them is kind of exciting because it’s a fresh way of seeing the ordinary."
Snyder recently took a new step in his artistic career, becoming scenic artist for 3D Sculpture Worx in State College. The new venture from local entrepreneur Gracienne Myers, the founder and owner of State College-based companies Mechanical Bull Sales Inc. and Banana Vital.
3D Sculpture Worx specializes in high-quality design and fabrication for a wide variety of creative products.
"We have expanded capacity to 3D model and replicate anything from signage to sculptures, public art, architectural elements, furniture," Snyder said. "It’s a really great facility to have in town and accessible in the region. Having the tools and equipment to handle things like that is a dream for me to be able to create large sculptures and large-scale works that are high professional quality and be of a professional standard."
Though the Pugh Street mural was done independently, Snyder said his future public art will be done through the company, which he said is an exciting opportunity to expand the capacity of what he can do.
"Moving forward, I’m always still trying to develop my own personal artwork, but having the time within the company to create those and bring that cash flow in, it helps alleviate the stress, as any artist would know, the ups and downs of trying to win projects and do business management and create the things," he said. "It eliminates that and really is a great stepping stone. I’m super grateful for the opportunity to fold in and bring the fullness of who I am to the company."
Public artist William Snyder III's new mural, based on a design by Wes Glebe, was completed in August 2019 on the side of the Pugh Street Parking Garage in State College. Photo by Geoff Rushton/StateCollege.com