by Molly Maguire
Big Joe Sculpture
Artist: Chris Sharp
Location: Top Block, Church Street
On June 4th, 2010, the opening night of Burlington’s 27th annual Discover Jazz Festival, more than the sounds of music graced Church Street. Chris Sharp’s bronze sculpture of Big Joe Burrell was unveiled in front of Halvorson’s Upstreet Café. Sharp, a figurative sculptor and native Vermonter with life-long ties to the Burlington arts community, seems a fitting artist for the task of representing a local music legend. Burrell arrived in Burlington in 1976 after touring worldwide with the likes of Count Basie and B.B. King. The statue, based on a photo of Burrell taken in 2004 at a live performance in Grantham, New Hampshire, shows the musician pointing out at the crowd. He performed regularly at Halverson’s and now he stands, saxophone to his lips, watching over the vibrant creative community he helped to establish. The commemorative sculpture is a permanent reminder of his unforgettable contribution to music in Vermont.
Image courtesy of Sara Katz, Burlington City Arts