The Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival is back this weekend with crowds of vendors and buyers taking over the Cathedral (Columbus) Square corridor.
The annual festival, presented by AmeriCU and the Downtown Committee, is an opportunity for artisans and entertainers of all genres to showcase their wares and talents.
This is the 51st edition of the festival, which boasts tens of thousands of visitors each year who go home with one-of-a-kind artwork, jewelry, ceramics and more.
The festival begins every day at 10 am, and will be open until 5 pm Friday, and 6 pm Saturday and Sunday.
As you explore the streets for your next treasure, here are five vendors definitely worth visiting:
Painting By ME
For Macienne and Esteban Trotman, art is both a passion and a form of self care.
“We’re both veterans,” Esteban said. “So a lot of it is stress relief.”
The two own Painting By ME, and their booth is a swirl of colorful canvases featuring a range of subjects. From classic cartoons like Betty Boop, to more serious still life and portraits, the Trotmans take inspiration from everything and everywhere.
“It depends on how we feel internally,” Macienne said. “If something inspires us, we’re like ‘OK I want to paint that.’ We travel, we take pictures and we like to challenge ourselves with something different. We try not to be so critical about it.”
To the Trotmans, art is a personal experience.
“Art comes from, as my wife said, how you feel,” Esteban said. “All that feeling that goes into it and expression—it’s a part of you. So when a piece goes out and sells to someone, that special someone, it’s because the piece calls to them.”
Email: [email protected]
Pratibha Sane specializes in tribal art of the Warli people, an indigenous tribe native to western India.
Traditionally, the art is painted onto the walls of homes with rice flour that is mixed with glue, Sane said, but she uses acrylic paint on canvas. The Warli art focuses on the relationship between humans and nature, with a particular focus on social life.
“It’s all about their simple and happy day-to-day lifestyle,” she said. “What they see around them in nature, everything, they paint.”
She has never used a stencil or stamp to create her paintings—every design is done one-by-one by hand.
For four years, Sane has shared her art and the history behind it at the Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival and she hopes to continue showcasing her take on the beautiful artwork of the Warli tribe of India.
“I just love to do it, it’s my passion,” Sane said. “I can sit for hours and hours and do this job.”
Polished Concrete is a jewelry brand with a mission.
Founder Brittney Mayes created the company in an effort to help financially support her grandmother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s around seven years ago.
Launched in February 2019—her grandmother’s birthday month—the brand’s name stems from Mayes’ background in civil engineering and construction management and symbolizes creating beauty out of a common good.
“Polished Concrete is a wordplay on resiliency because in my field, concrete is something we walk on, it’s solid, it’s bland and typical,” she said. “But once you put that (effort) on it, that shine, that polish, it becomes a luxury amenity.”
Mayes jewelry is made from raw brass and stainless steel, another nod to her construction background, and despite her grandmother’s death, Mayes is still pushing her brand and focusing on the future, as she hopes to build and design an affordable Alzheimer’s facility.
“One bracelet and one earring at a time,” she said.
What would a necklace made of orange peels look like? What kind of materials would produce the sounds of nature on your neck? These are the questions Lula Castillo asks herself as she creates her earth-born jewelry.
“I recycle seeds, beans, nuts, citrus peel, lima beans and I developed a technique to work with citrus rinds,” Castillo said. “I combine everything and I create one of a kind accessories.”
Castillo studied and made a career of industrial design in her native Columbia, where she learned to work with natural fibers and materials.
“My biggest inspiration is nature,” she said. “I’m curious about how things grow, their textures and colors.”
She finds inspiration everywhere, from everyday people, to architecture and even sound.
“When I heard something I was like ‘How can I transform that into jewelry’,” she said, shaking a necklace. “Everything can inspire me.”
FB: Natural Sur Jewelry
Email: [email protected]
On one street corner of the Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival rests a small concrete jungle.
There, Lorraine Cummings shows off her handcrafted birdbaths, tiles and mushrooms that all feature a piece of nature baked within.
“I use concrete that has been dyed and I cast it over sand and I use a real leaf to make all of the bird baths,” Cummings said.
Cummings first saw the technique in a magazine two decades ago, and incorporated her own designs and techniques to create her concrete garden accessories.
There are Chinese Empress tree leaves, coneflowers from her garden, bright red rhubarb leaves, sunflowers and more that are immortalized within each piece.
Cummings is a Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival veteran with a 20-year attendance record. As she interacted with customers Thursday morning, one approached her to let her know that she purchased Cumming’s work the year prior.
“Come see me because I’ve got a lot of good, fun garden things for you,” Cummings said.
If you go:
Where: Cathedral (Columbus) Square Neighborhood in Downtown Syracuse, encompassing the 200 and 300 blocks of East Onondaga Street, the 300 and 400 blocks of Montgomery Street, and the 200 and 300 blocks of East Jefferson Street.
When: Thursday from 10 am to 6 pm; Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm