State College

New downtown State College mural reflects region’s ‘history and legend’

One more mural can be checked off local artist Michael Pilato’s list of artwork in downtown State College.

Pilato said he has completed a mural at the Panera Bread building on the corner of South Allen Street and West Beaver Avenue that represents “the greatness of our valley,” with a tribute to local fallen heroes in the mix.

“It’s everything that the valley is,” Pilato said.

A month and a half ago, building owners Nina and George Woskob approached Pilato to come up with a mural theme for their building.

“We saw in him the ability to transcend today’s conflicts and paint an image in the heart of downtown that reflects State College’s beautiful history and legend,” Nina Woskob said.

“As a community, we have the ability to choose our own identity, and thus we want to inspire others to show how art and history can coalesce to display the positive aspects of our beautiful college town,” George Woskob added.

With the help of fellow artist Yuri Karabash, Pilato painted a mural that depicted the history of the Nittany Valley, Pilato said.

He said Pennsylvania folklorist Henry Shoemaker told a story about American Indian princess Nita-nee crafting a magic shield for her lover, Lion Paw, in order to protect crops from the north wind.

“The night before a huge storm, the shield was stolen and Lion Paw was killed,” Pilato said. “The princess buried him under a great mound of earth and prayed to the creator to help her protect the crops from the fearful wind. While praying with her hands raised high, lightning stuck her and a mountain arose from the mound — Mount Nittany.”

Pilato added that a lioness and her 11 lion cubs descended from the mountain the next day, and that story is depicted in the mural.

In addition, Pilato said a hidden message is included in the mural that honors two local fallen service members — Lt. Michael Murphy and Lt. j.g. Brandon McCombie.

Pilato said the latest vision took about a month to complete, and is the first in a series of murals that will be painted on downtown buildings over the course of about two years as part of the Inspiration Way and World Mural projects.

Future murals will include Special Olympics and Thon themes, along with other visual pieces.

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