BALDWINSVILLE — Not even a worldwide pandemic can dampen the enthusiasm of Frank Malfitano.
Sure, his Syracuse Jazz Festival was put on the back burner after its 35th anniversary presentation in 2017 as a result of dwindling financial support from longtime sponsors, but Malfitano continues to beat the drum for his hometown of Syracuse. His track record’s pretty remarkable. Besides Jazz Fest, he founded the Syracuse Area Music Awards and the Syracuse Walk of Stars back when he was executive director of the Landmark Theatre
Malfitano now resides in Baldwinsville, but his heart remains down city.
His newest brainstorm is the Downtown Mural Project, visually celebrating the achievements of prominent Central New Yorkers, including Cicero’s best basketball player, Breanna Stewart.
While attending music festivals across the country, Malfitano was impressed by the oversized outdoor murals his saw on buildings in many of America’s major cities.
“But very few of the nation’s larger first-tier cities can boast of similar achievements in athletics, arts and culture and of the major role Syracuse has played advancing the causes of civil rights, racial and social justice and gender equity,” he said. “While our accomplishments are many, our story has been undertold. We need to tell it.”
Malfitano has touched base with the administration of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, and is coordinating the mural project with the Public Arts Commission headed by Kate Autwater.
The first downtown mural in the series will be located at 333 E. Onondaga St., on the Monroe Building’s east wall.
“We’ve secured a written 10-year agreement with the building’s owners along with an option for renewal,” Malfitano said.
He has also secured the services of one of the world’s top muralists, Jonas Never of Los Angeles. Never has submitted an initial “Syracuse Trailblazers” design honoring four of Syracuse’s most prominent basketball players: Earl Lloyd Jr., Dolph Schayes, Manny Breland and Breanna Stewart.
The artist’s perspective is nothing less than spectacular. And the sky’s the limit. Malfitano envisions future murals depicting Syracuse musicians, authors and activists.
Work on the Trailblazers mural should begin in July.
“As the nation remains gripped in a frightening wave of renewed misogyny, racial inequity, antisemitism, political division and polarization, we need creative artistic solutions that will help bring Syracusans together again in unified fashion,” Malfitano said. “Visual art has the ability to do that. And murals have the ability to tell our story in ways it has not been told.”
To jump aboard the Downtown Mural bandwagon, contact Malfitano by telephone at 315-635-8045, or via email at [email protected].