Carmel completes set of jazz musician sculptures for $430,000

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The sculptures by J. Seward Johnson depict famous jazz musicians Gene Krupa on drums, Jack Teagarden on trombone, Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Sidney Bechet on soprano saxophone, Milt Hinton on double bass and Hoagy Carmichael on piano. (Photo courtesy city of Carmel)

Carmel’s trio of jazz musician sculptures is about to become a sextet.

The city this week will place all six of the lifelike sculptures, titled “My Sixteen-Year-Old Jazz Dreams,” by the late New Jersey-based artist J. Seward Johnson on a concrete platform on the west side of the Palladium performing arts center.

The members of the sextet are groundbreaking musicians Gene Krupa on drums, Jack Teagarden on trombone, Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Sidney Bechet on soprano saxophone, Milt Hinton on double bass and Hoagy Carmichael on piano.

The sculptures of Armstrong, Teagarden and Bechet have been on display at Carter Green since 2016. The city initially had the sculptures on loan before the Carmel Redevelopment Commission approved purchasing them in 2021 for $92,000 each.

The CRC in February approved a $430,000 contract to purchase the remaining three sculptures in Johnson’s set. The new sculptures are more elaborate, with Krupa on a five-piece drum set, Carmichael playing an upright piano and Hinton clutching a hefty bass.

Since 2005, Carmel has amassed the largest collection of Johnson’s lifelike statues outside New Jersey.

Most of Carmel’s statues by Johnson are from his “Celebrating the Familiar” collection. Johnson died in 2020.

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8 thoughts on “Carmel completes set of jazz musician sculptures for $430,000

    1. That’s subjective and not an accurate assessment of what the majority of people think. The city has purposely created an art district where something like this is relevant and fits right in. Im sure had you visited another city in another state that had this very same thing you would have praised that city for being beautiful and unique. Why is it that people from out of town appreciate the efforts of the city more than the native Hoosiers? It’s the cities attempt at reflecting the arts, something most people can appreciate. Im from Louisville and folks down there would love to have a suburb like Carmel.

    2. Eric R., you probably consider all art (and parks as well) to be a waste of taxpayer money. Perhaps the old East German design ethos, with their Brutalist bare concrete walls, is more to your taste?

    3. Well said Kevin.

      The loud and negative are the minority and often don’t even live in the area. Just pot stirrers. To be honest, not my favorite art, but I appreciate the city I live in and what the art district represents.

    1. No we don’t want anyone gone! Micah your usual one liner comments are all fine. We don’t want to promote cancelling anyone!

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