Bucks County Herald

Bridget Wingert: Happy to Be Here

Farewell to Cedar Maze

Pinky and Steven Snyder are moving on.

Cedar Maze is a magical grove in Tinicum Township. And it’s filled with stones.

Round stones, elliptical stones, ragged stones, smooth stones, polished and rough stones. Stones of many colors.

It’s the place where Steven and Pinky Snyder live, in a house Steven built 31 years ago. It’s set back from Cafferty Road, up a hill at the end of a curving driveway. One of the first things you see along that driveway is a group of tall cedar saplings tied together at the center to look like wheat sheaves at harvest – a welcoming gesture.

A few columns built with stacked stones show the way to the garden, where Steve’s sculptures are arranged among the trees. A pond filled with fish is the centerpiece – it’s fed by two fountains, one resembling an old-fashioned hand pump, the other one of Steve’s trademark round birds.

Steve began his career as a stone mason after he finished high school, a calling he made into an art. An example of his stonework can be seen at the 1680 Burgess Lea house in Centre Bridge and in the Bucks County reproduction stone farmhouse he did in Mississippi in 1994. That house was featured in Fine Homebuilding Magazine.

To see the stonework up close it takes just a walk to the corner of Broad and Court streets in Doylestown where a stone corner wall is installed to commemorate the millenium. Called “Look to the Future through the Past,” it was commissioned by the Thompson Organization and erected with the help of the Doylestown Historical Society at the location of the Doylestown Borough School building, which was destroyed by fire in 1973.

In the early 1980s, according to Steve’s website, “Fascinated by early Pennsylvania stone architecture, the diversity of indigenous stone in Bucks County, and the tradition of stone carving and shaping in this region, he began exploring form and texture through simple carvings in native stone.”

Steve started showing his work at local fairs – the Mercer Museum Folk Fest, the Tinicum Arts Festival, and Washington Crossing Historic Park events.

He collected hundreds of stones and altered them in a way their shape told him to do and he learned about Bucks County geology as his collection grew.

The garden has many stone tables and benches arrayed imaginatively with stones. One table in the large studio holds a collection of Bucks County indigenous stones, labeled with their names. A row of stone stacks adorns a massive stone platform. And birds and angels on pedestals are mixed among the tables and benches.

The annual spring and fall open house weekends at Cedar Maze have become seasonal favorites for families and visitors. Often Steve shares his woodland stage with guest artists and always, flowers are spread among the stone pieces.

But alas! Cedar Maze has held its last show. Steve and Pinky have sold their house. Settlement is Nov. 29, the week after Thanksgiving. On two September weekends, they sold most of the sculptures and more will be removed – hundreds of stones.

Pinky said a few people had tears in their eyes when they came to the final shows.

The Snyders are moving to a smaller house in Ottsville and Steve will have a studio at a plant nursery in Hunterdon County, N.J. Much of his sculpture will be in place there and he has been promised even a fish pond for the fountains to feed as they do at Cedar Maze.

He has so far built a legacy of art in Bucks County and beyond.

The Central Bucks School District commissioned Steve’s marble and granite sculpture "Cody," installed in 1994 at Buckingham Elementary School, where he was artist in residence that year.

Steve has participated in art events at Phillips’ Mill, The New Hope Sculpture Show, and Stover Mill Gallery. Beyond Bucks County, he has exhibited at the Payne Gallery of Moravian College in Bethlehem and the Park Slope Framing and Gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y. His sculptures are included in the collections of The Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, N.J. Three of Steve’s large sandstone murals are applied to the Jewish Center of Princeton, N.J.

Steve’s work will continue. That’s really good news, but Cedar Maze will be gone and the visitors must say farewell.



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