Pavement to Paint

The Syracuse New Times street painting festival will take place on Saturday, July 25

The Syracuse New Times and Family Times’ annual Street Painting Festival marks its silver anniversary on Saturday, July 25, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The action takes place in front of downtown Syracuse’s City Hall on Montgomery Street.

Artists of all ages are welcome to grab a bucket of chalk, either your own or what is provided, pick a numbered square and create a beautiful masterpiece for the public, other artists and yourself to enjoy.

There are categories for youth, teens and adults; the master’s category has been removed from this year’s lineup. More than $1,800 in cash prizes will also be awarded. Adult prizes are $150 for first place, $75 for second; the teen category awards $75 for first, $50 for second; and the youth category offers $50 for first and $25 for second. Every contestant is also entered to win in a random drawing.

A people’s choice honor, which will consist of gift certificates to area businesses, will also be awarded. In years past, artwork has consisted of ballerinas, sunflowers, abstract pieces and graffiti-like homages to Syracuse.

While Street Painting hones in on creative flair and letting the art tell the story, the range of artistic skills on display is endless. While some are novice and others are masterful, there is beauty to be found in each piece.

“I really like these penguins from the zoo that I did, which got first place one year,” recalled Meaghan Arbital, now creative services manager and designer at the Syracuse New Times. Before her New Times hiring, Arbital was a 10-year veteran of the Street Painting Festival.

Crowds flock to this annual event in hopes of catching artists in various stages of their process. “There’s a lot of people walking around,” Arbital said. “If they like your stuff they’ll sometimes talk to you, which is nice. It’s always community-like and personable.”

Making sure you’re comfortable and prepared for a day of creativity is key. Arbital offered these tips: “Bring kneepads, a spray bottle with water in it, a towel for changing chalk colors, aerosol hairspray to help preserve it (the artwork), and sunscreen!”

Registration for youth (age 12 and under) and teens (age 13 to 17) is $15, while the fee for adults (age 18 and up) is $25. A sign-up form can be completed online at or with a physical copy until July 24, although walk-up registration is always welcome. In the event of rain, Street Painting will take place Sunday, July 26.

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