Nittany Lion Inn chooses artist for new lobby painting

May 08, 2009

Karl Leitzel always had a passion for painting.

Since his teen years, Leitzel has embraced a "loose" style of painting, which has let him capture the energy, people and sense of place in his art.

"Art is like a good story that doesn't give you every detail, you have to figure out what's going on," Leitzel said. "That's what I think good art is."

This quality, along with his enthusiasm for the project, helped him win over a group of University employees representing several areas. The committee chose Leitzel to create a painting that will decorate the newly renovated lobby of the historic Nittany Lion Inn.

Entitled "Change of Classes," the 3-foot by 4-foot piece will capture the essence of Penn State in the spring during class change in one of the most noted and busiest parts of campus. The piece will also be framed from the wood of one of the historic Elm trees that once stood on campus.

"We wanted something unique to Penn State," Jim Purdum, general manager of Hospitality Services for Penn State, said. "The piece needed to be timeless so that any person who has walked through campus — student or visitor — can relate to the painting. It’s going to anchor that lobby."

The contest Leitzel won was a national call for entries, which drew hundreds of applicants.

"At the end of the day, Karl just had what we needed for the project," Purdum said. "His energy around the project solidified our choice—he is the right person for the job."

Leitzel's painting will be complete and on display in time for the beginning of football season in the fall.

Leitzel has been a life-long Centre County resident and his art has been featured in Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts sidewalk sales and galleries in Gettysburg and Harrisburg. Samples of his work can be found on

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Last Updated May 11, 2009