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Syracuse's latest mural: Artist brightens drab building with bold and colorful message

A 90-foot wall mural on the side of downtown Syracuse CNY Jazz Central building says "This must be the place" in big blue letters across the wall.
Chris Bolt
Cecily Thomas's 90-foot wall mural on the side of downtown Syracuse CNY Jazz Central building on Nov. 2, 2022.

A 90-foot gray wall on the side of downtown Syracuse CNY Jazz Central building is the city’s latest mural.

“The mural reads, ‘This must be the place," the creator Cecily Thomas said. "There are flowers and green leaves surrounding it.  The statement is for Syracuse.  It’s supposed to make you think how great Syracuse is.”

Thomas said she wanted to produce something with symmetry, nature, and bright colors.

“I wanted it to be something fun for myself to recreate," Thomas said. "But I also wanted it to be something bold. I like bold things. I think it’s going to catch people’s eye more.”

Her mural is the most recent to be unveiled under theCity as Canvas program led by Tomorrow’s Neighborhoods Today, or TNT. To Karen Greenfield, TNT program coordinator, the mural is a glimpse into how wonderful the city can be.

“It’s just a source of civic pride," Greenfield said. "You feel ‘I like living here, it’s pretty.’  Not to be superficial about it, but that’s how I feel.  But we have this opportunity to engage with the community, get these things out there and make things beautified.”

Cecily Thomas admits the 90-foot canvas was a bit intimidating.

“It’s a little scary," Thomas said. "I’ve never been one to sell my art like that or put myself out there so I guess go big or go home. So now I can’t be scared. I think this set the tone. Everybody’s going to see this. It’s very weird for me to think that but that’s also really cool.” 

Cecily Thomas wears a bright orange cardigan and glasses while she stands in front of her wall mural.
Chris Bolt
Artist Cecily Thomas stands in front of her latest creation in downtown Syracuse on Nov. 2, 2022.

She said the giant mural served as a spark for a new direction for her art.

“Public art is something I think I’ve always been a little interested in but I didn’t know how to get involved," Thomas said. "I didn’t really think I was good enough, maybe there’s a confidence thing there but now it’s like, you have to just try. So I think I could try whatever now, we’ll see. I would do another mural for sure.”

Another mural is in progress at the Palace Theater. Five more murals are expected to be completed next spring.

Matt Wrigley comes from Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, and is pursuing his Broadcast and Digital Journalism degree at Newhouse. His goal is to be a beat writer for a Philadelphia sports team or a broadcaster for NBC/NBC Sports. This semester at WAER, he's looking forward to gaining confidence with interviews and improving his news writing.
Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at