Artist plans downtown mural restoration


mural of Slippery Rock Creek

Slippery Rock artist Bill Smith is creating a new mural that will replace the current glass tile work, pictured here, which adorns SRU’s Fowler Building.

May 9, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - A muralist rarely passes a wall without assessing its potential as a canvass. When local artist Bill Smith saw the deteriorating mural of Slippery Rock Creek on the side of a building in town, he began to envision a substitute that would retain the creek shape but pop with new splash.

muralist Bill Smith


Smith has been commissioned by the Slippery Rock University Kaleidoscope Committee to develop a mural to replace the seven-year old wall art on the side of SRU's Fowler Building on Elm Street.

Support is being raised through the University's new online crowdfunding platform, with $1,175 already collected toward the $3,500 goal.

Smith, who lives in Slippery Rock, said he will present several mural designs to the Kaleidoscope Committee in September and begin work in early fall, partnering with an SRU art student intern. He plans to create a wood-planked mural accentuated with metal and glass to replace the chipped, glass-tile original.

Smith said his goal is to craft wall art inspired by the architecture in town, using repurposed, local wood.

"I want it seen, and seamed, into the community and environment," he said. "I want it to be aesthetically beautiful and fit in."

The process will involve removing the glass tiles to expose the underlying shape of the creek. Then he will overlay lapboard on top of the creek design. Metal, glass and other elements would be used according to the wishes of the committee.

Smith is not a newcomer to the Slippery Rock art scene. He has worked with SRU and contributed art for display during Kaleidoscope in previous years. In 2013, he presented "Artifacts," an exhibit featuring honey bears buried in the ground to illustrate how artifacts symbolize human culture.

Deanna Brookens, SRU instructor of theatre and Kaleidoscope director, is leading the downtown mural restoration project.

"The glass mural was just beautiful but it is in a deteriorating state," Brookens said. "Instead of taking it down, we are adding something new, and we're adding to the public value of aesthetics."

The current mural is chipped in different locations.

"Since the fall of 2014, Kaleidoscope has supported ongoing renovation of the mural by replacing affected areas with glass tiles," Brookens said. "Our plan was to complete the restoration this spring. However, over the course of the winter, the deterioration increased significantly and we went back to the drawing board."

Smith, who had already been hired to complete the labor on the restoration, came up with the idea of developing a new design.

"He proposed removing the tile-facing this summer, but leaving the beautiful creek shape maintained by the materials beneath the tile," Brookens said. "We can't wait to get started on this exciting new commission and are looking forward to having another fantastic work of public art in Slippery Rock."

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