Before the rains came: Judging at the 18th annual Syracuse New Times
Street Painting Festival wrapped a mere five minutes before a deluge
turned the pretty paintings into pastel puddles. Some of the winners
included: Hannah Barley’s
“Self-Portrait,” People’s Choice Award winner Lucas Slominski for his
Olympic athlete and Ashley Davies’ Youth winner “Katie from Total Drama Island.” MICHAEL DAVIS PHOTOS View more photos of the event
The artists braved the hot sun, humid
temperatures and even some rain showers to compete for the top spots
and win the cash prizes. The competition is separated into three
categories: Adult, Teen and Youth. In addition, there are awards for
People’s Choice and Best Copy of a Master.
Scores of spectators streamed by each
square throughout the day while the skin of each artist became
increasingly covered with chalk dust, as dark clouds threatened above.
Paintings varied from propaganda to cartoon and still life, but one
thing was consistent: The bright and vivid colors added a much-needed
splash of vibrancy to the concrete of the city.
Then, just as the judges had finished
scoring all the artwork, the clouds unleashed a 10-minute fury of rain.
The downpour carried away all the spectacular artwork and a day’s worth
of hard labor with it, forming brilliant puddles of purple, red and
blue as the colors drained into the sewers. Even though only the
smeared outlines remained, the images were captured forever through
memory and the lenses of the media; plus, there’s always next year.
At around 3:30 p.m. those who waited out the deluge gathered to hear New Times vice
president Shirley Zimmer announce the winners. First prize in the adult
category was Hannah Barley from Oneida, whose piece, titled
“Self-Portrait,” garnered her $200. Her portrait used an intoxicating
color scheme of purples, oranges and yellows, as a light source from
under her chin projected a warm glow across her face and the midnight
stars sparkled in the background of shadow.
The $75 award for second place went to
Sean Morgan’s “A View from Underwater.” The “view” looked up from the
water, past the underside of a turtle swimming by and to the surface
where a girl perched atop of a fence overlooking the water. Morgan, a
graduate of Solvay High School, has participated in the contest since
he was 12. “I was up all night trying to think of something to do and
that’s what I came up with,” he said. “I like all the people seeing my
More honorees include (clockwise from above) teen first-place winner
Lindsee Rowland’s “Syndrome,” Copy of a Master winner Navroz Dabu for
“The Dream” and third-place Teen creation “The Joker” by Melissa Orioli.
Rounding out the adult category with the
third-place prize of $50 was Lindsay Anthony with a painting titled
“Options.” She had split the sidewalk square into two opposing images
of a tree on a hill during the day and night. At night, the tree was
sickly bare as the branches twisted out into the black sky filled with
red and white circles. In contrast, the daytime tree’s deep brown trunk
and green leaves perched on top of a green hill covered with flowers
and soaking in the rays of the blazing sun.
For the teen category, Lindsee Rowland
nabbed the top spot for her work entitled “Syndrome.” The painting
consisted of a circle broken into four sections. Two of the corners
reflected profiles of a face; the one in the upper right had a joyful
expression with light circling around the face while its opposite
looked down against the moonlight in an expression of sorrow. The other
two sections were a contrast in the weather. In the upper left stood a
silhouette in the rain, a startling red umbrella against a gray
backdrop. The opposite, in the bottom right, the same silhouette figure
held a pink flower in place of the umbrella, and the background was
full of the colors of a sunny blue-sky day.
“I just thought of it; I won second
place last time and I’ll be in the adult group next year,” exclaimed
Rowland, who attends East Syracuse-Minoa High School and walked away
In second place with $50 was Colin
Hewitt’s copy of “Eyeball” by M.C. Escher that entailed an extreme
close-up of a human eye. The painting was entirely in neutral shades of
black, white and gray, except the sharp green color of the iris. “I won
first place last year which was kind of surprising, so I was excited
for the next one,” explained the Marcellus High School student. “I
wanted to do a copy of a piece by an artist.”
Third place was awarded to Westhill High
School senior Melissa Orioli, who captured the late actor Heath Ledger
as the Joker in the recent Batman flick The Dark Knight. The
portrait showed Ledger in green hair and makeup of disturbing blackened
eyes, a crude smile extended with red as if a knife had cut through his
mouth, and the scars that overtake the Joker’s skin. “I did this
because I saw the movie twice and I really like Heath Ledger,” said
rookie participant Orioli, who won $25. She said she will sign up again
Solvay Middle School student Ashley Davies earned the $75 first-place prize for her piece titled “Katie from Total Drama Island.”
The character is one of the stars of the Cartoon Network’s animated
reality show. In the drawing, Katie stood in a field of dark and light
green colors, a lone flower at her feet. A tree full of squirrels
graced the horizon and “Katie” was written in the clouds of a marvelous
blue and purple sky. “She’s my all-time favorite character. I keep
drawing her all the time,” said Davies.
For second place in the Youth category,
under 12 years of age, Connor J. Anthony’s “Iron Man” took the $50
prize. The bolded words, outlined with black and yellow, were written
atop a drawing of the comic book superhero in his flashy yellow and red
outfit as he looked out to the viewer, as if staring you in the eyes.
Finishing off the youth category in
third place was Vincent Reale, who won $25 for “Camp.” The painting
reflected the setting of a campground, with little tents set up around
The $100 winner for Best Copy of a
Master, Navroz Dabu, is no stranger to this tradition. He has
participated for about 13 years and his son Navzad won before as well.
Copying Picasso’s “The Dream,” Dabu put a bit of a spin on it. “My idea
was to draw the same piece three times; a book with the painting on the
cover, a copy of the painting from the cover, and then the actual
painting,” Dabu explained. Next to the painting laid a book with a
miniature version gracing the cover.
The People’s Choice Award went to Lucas
Slominski, who takes the title for the second year in a row. The piece
featured an Olympian in midair while completing a high jump, and the
2008 Beijing Olympic logo at the bottom. “Well, I am excited about the
Olympics coming up, so it was on my mind,” said Slominski, a Syracuse
University graduate who has participated on and off in the festival
since 1994. “I like this event because it’s great to create artwork in
front of other people instead of alone inside a studio or classroom,”
added Slominski, who pocketed $75 for the win.
The judges were longtime New Times illustrator and cartoonist Joe Glisson, retired North Syracuse School District art educator Marcia Ferber and New Times managing editor Bill DeLapp. A slide show of Street Painting creations can be found at www.syracusenewtimes.com.