Ruskin Avenue in the eclectic neighborhood of Strathmore in Syracuse, NY will host its 16th annual Art on the Porches event on Saturday, June 20. Art on the Porches features over 30 local artists and around nine musicians as well as local food vendors. Sponsored by surrounding businesses like Gannon’s Ice Cream, Art on the Porches has become a lively staple event within the Strathmore community.
Pottery, illustrations, photography, prints and handmade jewelry are just a few things that can be found at Art on the Porches in 2015. Crowds of over 3,000 have flocked to the event in recent years and the turnout is on track to be even greater this year. More musical artists have been added to the lineup and favorite artists are expected to return.
Some of the best-known artists and musical guests who appear at Art on the Porches also live in the neighborhood. Among the neighborhood’s residents are illustrator Jonas Sickler, etcher Elizabeth Andrews, SAMMY-award-winning musician Gary Frenay, and Tim Herron of the Tim Herron Corporation.
“The Strathmore neighborhood tends to be very community supportive,” Herron said. “They’re very much about the buy-local scene.”
The art showcased at Art on the Porches constitutes only a portion of what draws crowds to the event. Some of the real gems in the Strathmore neighborhood are the homes attached to the porches. A 650-pound etching press can be found in etcher Elizabeth Andrews’ studio, to which visitors are invited during the event.
The Strathmore neighborhood is filled with homes built in the 1920s and ’30s. A part of the neighborhood was recently designated a national and New York State Historic District, according to the Greater Strathmore Neighborhood Association’s website.
“They select certain homes to showcase the architecture in Strathmore,” Sickler said. “It’s a great way to show the community aspect that the neighborhood has.”
While strolling through the streets at Art on the Porches, feel free to stop and speak with the artists and musicians. “It’s good for start-up artists that want advice,” Sickler said.
“I’m able to develop more things based on what people are asking for,” Sickler said. “When I found things that people gravitated towards, I would expand on those.” One of Sickler’s prints — “Evil Cupcake” — was born at Art on the Porches.
Herron said the community needs more events like this to help the arts thrive.
“Syracuse arts in general” — both music and visual — “is in desperate need of more fans,” Herron said. “This event gives us an opportunity to expand our fan base.”
Frenay agreed with that assessment. “I think we see people at the event that we rarely see at our gigs around town during the year, so that exposure is great,” Frenay said. “We also sell our CDs from the stage, which always helps.”
Many of the pieces you’ll find at Art on the Porches have a story or history that is personal to each individual artist. “It puts more value into art when you know the story behind it,” Sickler said. Art bought online is impersonal; it doesn’t connect the artist to the buyer in the same way.
The crowds that inhabit these types of events, as well as the predicted weather for event day, can make or break the success.
Frenay said Art on the Porches provides a more intimate and neighborly setting for his group to play its music at compared with other yearly events like the Syracuse Arts and Crafts Festival.
“I think we have a very informed and artistic community, and the people that come to Art on the Porches reflect that,” Frenay said. “They appreciate fine art and music and are ready to plunk down their hard-earned dollars to support artists and to purchase pieces to beautify their homes.”