Syracuse: City Life in Watercolors

Syracuse: City Life in Watercolors captures places where people live and work, and everyday scenes they see in Syracuse, by three members of the Urban Sketchers art group, Bill Elkins, Dudley Breed, and Dan Shanahan. The artists all work on site, inside or outside, creating art that gives you a visual introduction to daily life in Syracuse.

Dan Shanahan is a Syracuse-based artist who has enjoyed drawing since he was a child. His favorite subjects were, in chronological order: people, noses, feet, cartoons, pigs, explosions, cars, and then back to people. Other than the occasional caricature of a teacher drawn during class, he didn’t make much art during high school, at Jamesville-DeWitt, or college, at the University of Buffalo, then Iowa State, where he graduated with a MS in Mechanical Engineering in 1992. Dan returned to drawing more routinely after moving back to Syracuse in 2001. He picked up plein air painting one day in 2014, when, with brushes, paints, and an easel, he followed a friend into the woods, but couldn’t make sense of all the leaves. He has since stuck to painting buildings and cars. Dan draws and paints with the local Urban Sketchers group, and with Open Figure Drawing. He also continues to make illustrative art work, some of which will be on display in Edgewood Gallery in the summer of 2024. Patrons may see more of his artwork at

Dudley Breed Jr. joined the Syracuse Urban Sketchers in April of 2018 after retiring from a career as a Landscape Architect in Syracuse. His professional interests include streetscape design, park planning, restoration of historic landscapes, and garden design. Dudley also served as an adjunct instructor with the Faculty of Landscape Architecture at SUNY ESF, teaching classes in design, site engineering, and graphics. He was also fortunate to extend that teaching experience as a guest instructor at the Chinese Cultural University in Yang Ming Shan, Taiwan, ROC. Dudley is enjoying retirement with his wife Maureen, and along with weekly sketch outings, they are also active cyclists, exploring the many off-road bicycle trails that New York and New England offer. Yoga, hiking, and canoeing round out their activities.

Bill Elkins has been experimenting with watercolors since 1995. He has no formal art training other than a couple of years of excellent private classes and a few workshops. Bill has read every watercolor book the public library has to offer, and has subscribed to a bunch of art periodicals. Bill is always experimenting with his artwork, trying new things, rejecting some things, and then trying more things, to keep moving forward with his artwork. Bill Elkins’ current passion is Urban Sketching. He is out on the streets of Syracuse nearly every day, sketching whatever is around.


The Syracuse: City Life in Watercolors opening reception will be held on June 28th. The exhibit will be on display until Sunday, September 10, 2023.  Visitors may view this exhibit during regular museum hours at the Onondaga Historical Museum.