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Chester teen creates legacy with storefront artistry

  • Matthew Snider, of Chester, is shown Tuesday in front of two of his storefront creations at Sweet Peas. Snider has been painting Popeye on store windows since 2012.

    Matthew Snider, of Chester, is shown Tuesday in front of two of his storefront creations at Sweet Peas. Snider has been painting Popeye on store windows since 2012.
    Pete Spitler/Herald Tribune

 
By Pete Spitler
Editor@heraldtrib.com
updated: 9/6/2017 10:50 AM

What started out as a fatherly request has turned into a legacy for Matthew Snider.

The 17-year-old Faith Christian School senior has become well-known for painting the Popeye-themed storefront scenes in Chester as part of the town's observation of the annual Popeye Picnic, which kicks off its 38th celebration this weekend.

"I was about 8 years old when I started drawing Popeye," said Snider. "I started becoming good and my dad asked me one day if I would try to draw one on the window."

Snider's father, Greg, owns Chester Video and Matthew's first scene was Popeye saluting his older brother, Andrew, who was serving in the U.S. Army.

Now in his fifth year of being a storefront artist, Matthew was asked if he has a plan for each window scene or if it is impulse inspiration.

"Before I paint a window, I try to figure out what I want to paint," he said. "I ask the people what they would like.

"They would either tell me what they wanted or tell me I could create something myself."

Matthew said if the choice is up to him, he would paint scenes revolving around the new statue for each year or the Picnic's overall theme, which is "Popeye goes tropical" for 2017.

"If it's my dad's window, I'll work on the outline on one day and then work on the color," he said. "Sweet Peas, that took me about five hours.

"Uptown Barbers took six-to-seven hours and two-to-three hours to paint the thrift store's window."

Matthew credits his mentor, Ken Wheaton, for helping him become the artist he is today. Wheaton will be at the Popeye Picnic on Saturday for Segar's Sketchers, which takes place from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Chester Public Library.

"He made me a great artist and I think my work is great because he's taught me how to draw Popeye ever since I was 8 years old," Matthew said.

Matthew said he's tried to draw cartoons, but found it wasn't for him.

"I can paint a scene, but I just can't draw a comic strip," he said.

He was also asked what his favorite scene has been.

"My favorite Popeye painting is Sweet Peas' window right now," he said, referring to the ice cream shop on Stacey Street. "The way that it's presented, I feel like I painted Olive Oyl and Popeye just perfect.

"That's the first painting I've ever done with two characters in it."