Mercyhurst Prep Mural Project Makes Mercy Network News

The Network thanks Mercyhurst Preparatory School in Erie, PA for sharing the story of their mural project that highlights the commitment and involvement of the Sisters of Mercy.

"Mercyhurst Preparatory School (MPS - formally Mercyhurst Seminary) in Erie, PA, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Mercy, made headlines when the largest linear environmental outdoor mural in Northwestern Pennsylvania was revealed to the public in August.

The enormous mural project, publicly touting the mission and values of the Sisters of Mercy, is a 8,200 square foot environment, composed of 26 pillars and 177 - 8 foot panels that cover 1,416 square feet of the schools brick facade.

Each charism of the Sisters of Mercy:  Compassionate Presence, Service, Justice, Hospitality, and Concern for the Dignity of all Persons, is represented by its own pillar."



Todd Scalise to Exhibit in Boston

OCTOBER 15, 2014

Local artist returns to alma mater

ERIE – Visual artist and Erie native Todd Scalise will return to yet another of his almae mater – Boston University – as part of the prestigious university’s largest-ever alumni exhibition.

And when he goes, Scalise – the well-known Mercyhurst Prep grad who recently installed an 8,200 square foot public art piece on his former high school – will take a small piece of Erie lore with him.

“I’ll be exhibiting a portion of the ‘Raccoon Nation’ section of the Erie Art Museum’s Annex Stairwell  Project that I completed in 2012,” Scalise said. “This is the first time this work has traveled out of the region, and I’m proud to expose our area’s rich cultural heritage to a larger audience.”

Scalise graduated from BU with a Master’s Degree in Painting in 1997 before moving to San Francisco to become a muralist in a commercial art company. Since that time, he’s worked in places like Metz, France (creating a mural for one of the inauguration parties for the Pompidou Center), Santa Fe, N.M. (where he designed the Albuquerque Film Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to actor Dennis Hopper) and of course, his hometown of Erie (the Perry 200 Commemoration logo, the Erie Philharmonic Centennial Mural on the HANDS building, the Downtown YMCA mural, Presque Isle Partnership’s “Best Summer Night” concert featuring Steely Dan, and the aforementioned Stairwell Annex and Mercyhurst Prep projects).

BU’s exhibition will be guest-curated by Detroit native, Yale alum, and Queens, N.Y.-based artist Andrea Champlin.

“My interest is in making this a strong exhibition that will reflect recent shifts in the program and in contemporary art,” said Champlin. “I am looking for new work from accomplished artists who continue to develop beyond graduation. A diverse and forward-looking exhibition will reflect well on the school and on all BU grads.”


Boston University’s College of Fine Arts School of Visual Arts’ 60th Annual Alumni Exhibition, “Convergence” takes place from Friday, Oct. 24 through Dec. 14 at the 808 Gallery, located at 808 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Mass. The opening reception will be held on Friday, Oct. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, contact James Hull at or 617-358-0200.



Erie P()P Hits the Stage

Lake Erie Ballet, Art Moves
Erie Playhouse
May 23 & 24, 2014

Higherglyphics was showcased in this year’s Art Moves performed at the Erie Playhouse by Lake Erie Ballet. These works of dance were inspired by the Erie Art Museum's permanent collection and other art of international renown. ‘Erie P()P’, a section from the Annex Stairwell Project, was projected on stage as dancers interacted with icons from Erie’s pop culture history. A 2-liter bottle of ‘pop’ (or ‘soda’ as the sugary beverage is known west of the Mississippi) was used as a central icon in the performance.

The artistic and educational staff at Lake Erie Ballet created thirteen new works for the first return of this collaboration since 2009. Joining the students and companies of the Lake Erie Ballet were Theresa Bonivissuto, of Neos Dance Theater in Ohio and James Dixon, formerly of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company of Ohio and Lula Washington Dance Theater of California. Choreography included works of ballet, jazz, modern and tap.



Painting the Town


Higherglyphics CEO, Todd Scalise appeared in The Erie Times News this week. Bob Jarzomski and Jarid A. Barringer spent some time to explore the life of a local artist. They followed Todd as he shared his own story as well as past works like the Erie Philharmonic Centennial Mural, a future vision to create an Erie Monument out of the Penelec smokestack, and Higherglyphic’s current project for Mercyhurst Prep.

You can read the article here:

See the pictures at:



The Higherglyphics Method

Original sketchbook entry for Joe Root and OHP (Ya, you know me!), 2011

A Higherglyphics installation begins life in a sketch book. An idea forms and is laid to paper. The idea changes shape as it moves through iterations across pages. Like the work of Pablo Picasso, the images undergo metamorphosis as they slowly adopt changes, turning them from sketch to skew. The images that fill this evolutionary space take direction from the subconscious mind in the arch of preliminary development. With an unconscious beauty, no context to abide by or color to coordinate, these designs are free to take on their own being. Later, detail will be added but the layout happens with aid from the hand, not through it.

The pieces second stage of life exists contrary to the organic nature of the layout’s formation. The already created layout is loaded into the whirring machinery of a computer, to be printed at 20 percent scale. By allowing a computer to handle the scaling process, the original impression from the organic input is preserved and the refined architecture of content can be created within that subconsciously influenced layout.

Higherglyphics draws its style from ‘glyphic abstraction’, a highly stylized method of using vector graphics to ensure that each piece is infinitely scalable. From a business card to a skyscraper, the use of vector graphics ensures that there will be no loss of quality as the image gains size. The tradeoff for this infinite scalability is voluntary removal of minor graduation and color transitions. What remains after the layouts, scans, scales and prints, have been completed, is a glyphic abstraction with a clean look that can be applied to objects large and small, almost anywhere.

20 years ago when Keith Haring was creating brightly colored figures with simple forms that contrasted their complex messages, this process was completely unavailable. His work used a technique that allowed him to find fame through its simplicity without the use of vector graphics. My work on the Annex Stairwell Project took full advantage of the process described above. By using vector based images, I was able to provide the Erie Art Museum with a large scale art installation, accompanied with merchandising that shares the stairwell’s design.



The Message of Vision

Before the written word began humanity’s ongoing climb to becoming a type one civilization, our ancestors painted the wall of their homes with stories that we share with them thousands of years later. Over the millennia, humanity’s art has become more complex in its story telling, while often retaining incredible simplicity. With language helping to advance the world toward new technological horizons why chose visual public relations over traditional media, PR?

Odds are, at some point in the average American’s day, they will be exposed to a billboard or 60. The text of the billboard will likely be forgotten by the next exit or sip of coffee. The billboard’s supermodel or cold beer however, will be etched into the viewer’s brain, to be forgotten after a period of months rather than minutes. Humans have lazy brains. Lazy brains that love pictures. The picture superiority effect states plainly that concepts are much more likely to be retained when represented through pictures rather than words. Visual public relation offers the opportunity to have your brand attached to the minds of all who see it.

Do you remember having to learn 16th century Italian because the urge to see the works of Leonardo Da Vinci overcame you? No, images are translatable to the vast majority of human experience. One painting will contain puuvili, ffrwythau, frukt, frott, fruta and fruit. No language barrier exists between the retina and the stored database of human experience (brain).

The risk of traditional public relations is lack of control. After hours of writing and refining a story is handed over to the media. From this point it is gone. Once a professional has sent their work into the world the questions still remain, “Will my story be picked up? If it does, when will it run and for how long?” Icing the cake of uncertainty is the journalist or editor’s freewill to do with your story what they please.

Visual Public Relations becomes an installed part of a brand. The added style elevates awareness by adding a unique look that business owners control. If your PR professional gets jealous, they can always write a press release about your shiny new art instillation by Higherglyphics.



Higherglyphics Back in the News with the MPS Mural

I always appreciate when the local media shows interest in local businesses at work. I like it more when they show interest in art and best when they are interested in Higherhlyphics. All self-promotion aside, I would like to thank Bob Neely and the entire team at Jet 24 for helping to spread the word about the Mercyhurst Prep Mural Project.

This project is an incredible opportunity for all parties involved. Coverage, like Monday night’s news, increases our shared prospects.   

The following piece aired Monday at 6:15pm. The involvement of the local media in commerce, is instrumental in boosting Erie’s Creative Economy and I cannot thank them enough for it.


Also, I would like to thank the Mercyhurst Mural website team for giving me a show case on the blog and taking some time to create a collage, with samples of my work, from the MPS days that I remember so fondly. You can read their piece at

Selected work from Todd Scalise during his years at Mercyhurst Preparatory School 1987-1991

Selected work from Todd Scalise during his years at Mercyhurst Preparatory School 1987-1991



Return of the Perry 200 Logo

The official and unofficial Perry 200 Commemoration logo

Creating the Perry 200 Commemoration logo for The Jefferson Society in partnership with the The Erie Reader, always felt like a unique opportunity for me. In previous projects, I had been able to take advantage of eye catching ‘shock and awe’ to grab the viewer’s attention. In contrast, the Perry 200 logo required a level of constraint to honor the history behind its subject.

The major challenge in designing the Perry 200 logo, was finding a method of mixing Colonial Era history with contemporary aesthetics, while maintaining historical accuracy. Making this feat more challenging was the lack of source material. Like the artists who painted great figures and events before me, I did not have access to my subject or an image that came close to Perry’s likeness. These moments allow human understanding of scarcity to take center stage. What I did not have was what I needed to create.

What I did have, was a collection of sketches, descriptions and second hand guesses that I had dug up from my own research. It seems that when a colony’s artistic talent relies on people trained in the mother country, going to war with that country is taxing on the artistic community. Furthermore, the invention of photography would not happen until the generation after Perry, which leaves us with no photographic reference of the War of 1812.

The portraits in my possession -  the one’s that had been historically confirmed - were of one Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry during an ambitious youth and another of the man who had seen the tides of war and come through. Because of the strength and poise in the youthful image, I felt that it best relayed the image of passion and glory that myself and Dr. Garvey shared. I do not regret my choice but the feeling of leaving something behind never left me.

Perry’s experience did not end in his youth. It went on. His eyes became older and his shoes wore thinner. By not recognizing Perry’s future as a part of our past, we leave behind half of the life of a great man.

The signature in the logo is Perry’s own, hastily written on the back of a crewman as he first declared, “We have met the enemy and they are ours”. The Caslon typeface was invented by Benjamin Franklin and the 15 naval stars represent the colonies that stood as official parts of our fledgling nation. There is far too much history in this piece to let its counterpart be forgotten. I would like to share with you the Perry 200 Commemoration logo’s wiser brother - a secondary unofficial version, a portrait of Perry post 1813.




Train in Paris - May 15, 2010

With each connection that I make, the world grows smaller. Life becomes a game of six degrees. Few - if any - players in this game know that they are involved, but some see glimpses of it.

Nothing reminds me of this more than when I brought Visual Public Relations to Europe in 2010. Life becomes a series of beautifully alienating events once you've made the choice to spend a year on a new continent, companionless but for creativity and ambition. Ignoring how deeply you lose yourself in the humbling experience of being the stranger in a strange land, something always finds a way to pull you back home.

Erie’s culture and people will find you even if you cross an ocean; I went to the same grade school as Pat Monahan who, now finds himself as the frontman of Grammy Award-winning band Train. We may not have been buddies, or hung out regularly, but Pat was winning the game of six degrees, with a one degree lead. As if he was vying for the position of reigning champ, he appeared in Europe during my one year stay.

While bouncing from Germany to France and enjoying my experience of foreign solitude, I noticed the apparitions of Erie continually appearing in the form of posters for the European branch of Train’s 2010 tour, bringing a certain homey comfort to my European experience; coffee shops would show Train videos, train stations displayed Train posters, and music stores sold Train music.

As he was touring with Train and his music in Europe, I was touring with Higherglyphics and my art.

These small interactions remind us of both the quality and quantity of culture packed into our city. In a world of billions, we always find a piece of home that comes from a city of thousands, through zero degrees of separation.




As a graduate of Mercyhurst Prep, I feel privileged to create for my alma mater by adding Higherglyphics proven success in Visual Public Relations to their image. I hope to change the face of my old stomping grounds in a way that will offer greater recognition to Mercyhurst Prep. This is simultaneously one of the largest and most personal projects that Higherglyphics has embarked upon.

The MPS students have shown incredible enthusiasm for the project. Over 250 submissions have come to the website’s email with more arriving every day. The students’ pictures, writings and videos will be the artistic foundation for the realization of Mercyhurst Prep’s 24 Pillars of Unparalleled Preparation for Life.

Enthusiasm for the MPS mural project could not have reached its current level without the help of our local media. Below is a list of links to coverage by these local outlets.

Thank you to all of these outlets for their interest and participation during the Mercyhurst Prep Mural press conference.



Todd Scalise Wins 2014 Arts Entrepreneurship award

Erie, Pa-On Thursday, 1/30/2014, Higherglyphics CEO, Todd Scalise, captured a 2014 Fractured Atlas, Arts Entrepreneurship Award.

This national award is given to artists whose passion and innovation in business, matches their creative fervor. Todd shares this title with winners from New York, Austin, and Chicago. His work in visual public relations has lead to creations ranging from promotional merchandise, to large scale artistic installations like the Erie Philharmonic, Centennial Mural, and the Erie Art Museum, Stairwell Annex Project. He adds this award to a collection which already includes the Erie Downtown Art & Cultural Coalition’s Morton Wright, Artist of the Year Award and the Applied Media Arts track of the Innovation Erie Design Competition, which earned Todd a $10,000 dollar grant.

As a graduate of Mercyhurst Prep, Temple and Boston Universities and a former Adjunct Professor at Edinboro University among other universities, Todd and Higherglyphics are prime examples of the limitless potential that the Erie area has to offer. As his name continues to appear in headlines, Higherglyphics and the term “Scalisized” become more synonymous with the Erie arts.



Scalise Named Artist of the Year


ArtsErie and EDA&CC, Erie Downtown Arts & Cultural Coalition, announce the 2013 Arts Appreciation Award Recipients. This year’s recipients are: Leadership Award to ECGRA, Applause Award to Dr. Charles Joy and Applause Award to Employees and Agents of Erie Insurance, Imagine Award to Kelly Armor and the Bruce Morton Wright Artist of the Year Award to Todd Scalise. The award nominations were submitted by local residents and reviewed by a volunteer panel and endorsed by the ArtsErie Board of Directors. 

The 2013 Bruce Morton Wright, Artist of the Year Award which recognizes an artist whose work has had a significant effect on our community will be awarded to Todd Scalise. Scalise develops his work through implementing “application for art”, understood most recently through his work to develop the regional brands: Erie P()P, the Perry 200 Commemoration and Let’s Move Outside. His work, Higherglyphics, a permanent installation at the Erie Art Museum, helps to tell the story of our region. The Philharmonic Centennial Mural gives residents and visitors a new look at one of our oldest and most celebrated arts organizations and commemorates our involvement in the War of 1812. Scalise’s art has been featured on our streetscapes, t-shirts, coffee mugs and floor coverings; it has also adorned gallery and museum walls in the United States and Europe

Each year a local artist is selected to create the Appreciation Award. The work of local photographer Rebecca Samler was selected. Each award recipient will receive Samler’s stunning photograph of the Brig Niagara printed on aluminum sheeting. The Nomination Review Panel felt the work was most appropriate for recognizing the award recipients during the year of the Perry 200. 



Todd Scalise Named an Innovation Erie Winner!


October 2, 2013, Erie, PA – In its fifth year of competition, InnovationErie announced the grand prizewinner of the 2013 design competition.

Of the 12 semi finalists who moved onto the second of three rounds of judging and exhibited their works at the Erie Art Museum, four individuals went on to present their product designs and media arts concepts to an independent panel of judges this past Saturday. InnovationErie Design Competition was created in an effort to catalyze creative economic development in Northwest Pennsylvania by supporting an innovative community of artists, scientists, artists, manufacturers, engineers, and designers (SAM & ED). The competition invited artists, inventors and thinkers to submit their product design ideas and applied media arts concepts for a chance to win over $15,000 in cash and professional services, including intellectual property legal consulting services fromMcDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton LLP, and other services from InnovationErie partners.

The applied media arts track was a new addition for 2013, and invited participants to submit animated works, new app ideas, online publishing ideas, web and video design, unique online art sales ideas, and photographic concepts. InnovationErie is open to any individual, team or small business in the United States, though all products or media ideas must have the ability to be manufactured or created in the greater Erie, PA region. 

Todd Scalise was the winner of the Applied Media Arts track of the competition, entitling him to a $10,000 grant for equipment, services and membership with Edinboro University’s stARTup Incubator. Mosaix is a browser-based web application that allows the user to create an infinite array of tessellation mosaics in the form of artistic kitchen magnets, unique wall tiles, and fashionable floor coverings. “With Mosaix uniquely shaped design and ease of on-line application you will be creating your own patterns in no time,” Scalise says. “At the click of a button, your Mosaix are manufactured and shipped right to your door for quick installation. Anyone can do it. All that is required is a little imagination!” 

“This year’s slate of finalists was by far the strongest set we’ve seen,” said Atty. Jonathan M. D’Silva of MacDonald, Illig, Jones & Britton LLP and Chair of the InnovationErie committee. “We believe that each of them will likely be successful with hard work and perseverance.” A complete list of the winners’ services and cash prizes, as well as InnovationErie sponsors, can be found on the competition’s website,