Mural to honor Syracuse street musician ‘Eli’ Harris planned for SU Hill

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A mural to honor a Syracuse street musician killed tragically in an April hit and run could soon grace the side of a building the SU Hill.

Elijah Harris Jr., or Eli, was well known around the Salt City and for 25 years, would perform outside the Carrier Dome and around Armory Square. His wide variety of music and larger than life personality almost always yielding a smile from passersby.

“Eli was just somebody who entertained and projected and encouraged us to dance to him and sing with him but in so many ways as we got to know him he was so much of an emissary for this community,” said Jacob Allan Roberts.

Roberts, a Syracuse artist, knew Eli well, both through the Syracuse art community and just in passing. When he heard the news about Eli’s death, his mind started turning; Roberts had worked on murals in the past, but this one would hit close to home.

Those ideas turned into planning with the help of the art collection 315Alive!, a location near the corner of Marshall Street and University Avenue was picked out and design was drawn up.

Roberts holding up an early design of the mural.

“We’re gonna use sort of an artistic approach to something that will be unmistakably Eli, using, say he always wore SU gear, so a baseball cap or, course, him playing his guitar,” Roberts said.

While the final design for the mural on the building that houses the Marshall St. Starbucks and J Michael Shoes still needs to be approved by the City of Syracuse Art Commission, Roberts said he is confident it will be approved.

The location will still allow Syracuse University fans walking to the Carrier Dome to be greeted by Eli in the future and while the music may be gone, Roberts hopes his likeness and energy will live on in the art.

The goal is to have the mural completed before students return to campus for the Fall 2020 semester.

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