A former blank concrete slab at 10th Street and Snyder Avenue is now radiating with variegated shades depicting youth athletics and academics.
For Ed Snider, the late chairman of Comcast Spectacor, these were cornerstone missions of his career.
Although Snider was acclaimed for bringing a National Hockey League team to the city, the sports business executive wanted to be remembered for more than his establishment of the Philadelphia Flyers.
In honoring that legacy, The Snider Foundation, including members of the Snider family, and Mural Arts Philadelphia collaborated a couple of years ago to create the “Snider Hockey: Inspiring Our Youth” public art, which was recently unveiled at 929 Snyder Ave.
“It wasn’t an arbitration when (The Snider Foundation) reached out to us and said they would like to do something that’s both a tribute to Ed Snider as an important citizen of the city,” said Jane Golden, founder and executive director of Mural Arts. “But more importantly, something that captures that depth and the breadth of the youth hockey program.”
Over the course of his career, Snider, who passed away in 2016, founded the South Philadelphia-based Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation (known as Snider Hockey), which works to make athletics, particularly hockey, accessible to inner-city children, as participation in sports programs tend to come with hefty price tags.
Even though, since 2005, the program continues to host a range of hockey opportunities for students aged 5 to 18, such as camps and after-school sessions, the true crux of Snider Hockey rests in nurturing students beyond the rink.
“Any sport or any pursuit can be a great motivator,” said Scott Tharp, president and CEO of Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. “Hockey, we believe, just happens to render hard work and honest effort and teaches you to work as a team. They’re all attributes that will take children far in life.”
Through hockey, the program simultaneously offers other resources, including life skills and healthy living initiatives as well as a scope of academic and career support, including secondary and postsecondary education scholarships.
As their partnership cemented, Golden says the mission of Mural Arts Philadelphia aligns seamlessly with the objectives of Snider Hockey.
“I think that I related to the (Snider Hockey) because it actually resonates with me in a deeply personal away,” she said. “Because at Mual Arts, we serve over 2,000 young people, and we use art as a tool for youth development…We’ve continually seen Mural Arts become a lifeline and a real force that can open up different worlds for young people, so our missions are very similar – we’re using art and they’re using hockey.”
As both The Snider Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia brainstormed concepts for the mural, the creative team passionately felt the mural must reflect Snider’s philanthropic efforts above anything else.
After a call-to-artists was put out, Jared Bader, a local freelance artist, muralist and graphic designer, was selected for the commission.
His vision not only captured students with hockey sticks and pucks but illustrated them graduating in caps and gowns.
“(Bader’s design) really focused on children, but it focused on the progression children made in life,” Tharp said. “It wasn’t hockey centric. We didn’t want it to be. We wanted the artist to showcase our other programs as well…I think we all came to the consensus that he really captured what our mission is about. We were very, very pleased with the diversity that he showed, which is one of our hallmarks.”
Bader started drafting designs last year.
Throughout his research process, Bader says he stopped by Snider Hockey programming to watch students in action. He also spoke with a few young athletes and instructors to get a sense of Snider’s impact.
“Usually, when people are painting murals about a specific person, there is a large portrait with different aspects of their life,” he said.
This memorial, however, would be approached differently than most.
“Everyone kind of agreed that they didn’t think Ed Snider would want to be the main focus of the mural,” Bader said. “We wanted him to be a component, but we wanted the youth hockey foundation to be the main focus. They thought that was his true legacy.”
Snider is shown in the mural, but he’s surrounded by students of various ages and ethnicities who are painted the same size and scale.
Straddling the entire block from 10th to Hutchinson Street, the mural’s colossal horizontal length lends itself to tell a larger narrative about Snider’s legacy.
“(Snider) really believed that this was not about him – it was about others and the joy, the wonder and the importance of giving back,” Golden said. “So, we wanted to acknowledge his key role in the city and as a person who touched the lives of so many young people.”