Local jazz legend Clifford Brown celebrated in new sculpture

By Amy Cherry 3:02pm, November 9, 2012
WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
Wilmington unveils its second public art statue honoring a local hero in as many months.

WDEL's Amy Cherry was on-hand.

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The bronze statue of jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown stands tall at 9 feet, as a beacon of Wilmington's rich history--just steps away from where the legend lived, went to school, and learned how to play music in Kirkwood Park.

The statue was done by the nation's most highly commissioned artist John Hair.

"Bringing a statue of Clifford Brown, who's really a local hometown hero right in his neighborhood, really I think it's great," says Hair.

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The sculpture took a quick five months to craft, and this North Carolina artist makes it sound easy.

"Knowing your anatomy, and then trying to capture of any likenesses, you've been able to find on the Internet. I found probably maybe 20 different photographs of Clifford and just kind of figured it out by there," Hair says.

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Mayor Baker jokes public art shouldn't be abstract and if it's paid for with tax dollars, you should know what it is.

"To me, public art is for people to know what you are, who you are, where you're at," he says.

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And that's the kind of art Hair likes to do.

"People say, 'What kind of art do you?' I go stuff you can tell what it is. That's the real art people connect to. Who's going to relate to the rusted pile of machine parts welded together and stuck on the corner?" he asks.

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Hair, a musician himself, says he loves telling the stories of people who make a difference through art.

"It was just a real honor to be able to sculpt a guy that had that big of a heart and that much talent," says Hair.

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The statue costs $125,000 paid for through the city's Percent for Arts fund.

Just last month, Mayor Baker unveiled a statue honoring Underground Railroad heroes Harriet Tubman and Thomas Garrett in Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park. To see WDEL coverage of that sculpture unveiling, click here

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