Sydney Britton didn’t know what she was looking at when she took a break from her morning run Saturday.
“What the heck is it?” she asked.
She then took a step back to get a better view.
“Oh, I get it,” she said. “That’s actually kind of cool.”
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A 2-D version of a 16-foot sculpture of a Vespa is a new attraction in downtown State College next to the S&T Bank at the intersection of Fraser Street and Beaver Avenue.
It was erected Wednesday, while the landscaping around it was finished Thursday, said artist William Snyder III.
Snyder, who by day is the business manager at Keystone Business Support, created the 6-inch-thick, hollow, aluminum sculpture inspired by his interest in Vespas.
It’s named #BigVespa.
“I drive them and I just like them,” Snyder said. “It was something that was a lot of fun to make.”
Snyder drove the scooter-type vehicle in 2005 until it was backed into and damaged beyond repair. He has since gotten another one.
For the past year, Snyder said, he’s been drawing shapes and sketches, which included one of a Vespa that he designed on an iPad.
“I got an idea and ran with it,” he said. “It’s just a vintage pop take on the scooter.”
The sculpture weighs about 239 pounds on a 250-pound base.
In the spring, Snyder created a similar sculpture of the Vespa at 4 feet and showcased it at the Fraser Street Gallery.
With help from a friend at a Philipsburg-based manufacturing company, Snyder was able to make it even bigger.
Snyder’s goal was to complete it in time for the borough’s First Friday events in June. But his plans got backed up.
It took Snyder a little more than a month to finish, and he showed the final product at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts last month.
“Most people ask why and I respond, ‘why not?’ ” he said. “It was a side project I tried to get done in the evenings.”
Snyder is on a public arts committee with Mayor Elizabeth Goreham, who was first given the idea to showcase it downtown.
With the OK from Goreham, borough Manager Tom Fountaine and public works Director Mark Whitfield, they agreed to find a spot for it, and it will stay up unless the borough decides to take it down, Snyder said.
Snyder’s original plan was to show it at a parking space downtown, but it didn’t fit properly, he said.
Snyder had to figure out engineering details of the sculpture, so if it were placed somewhere specific, he knew the wind wasn’t going to blow it down.
“Once I came to them with my drawings and notes, and they knew it wasn’t going to hurt anyone, they agreed,” Snyder said.
Art is Snyder’s biggest hobby and he said he hopes to make another large public sculpture, but has nothing in the works just yet.
“I like to get back to the joy of making things,” he said. “I discovered my skill is in solving puzzles and figuring things out, and I honed in on this idea and pushed it to the limit.”