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Sharon sophomore jazzes up downtown with music-themed sculpture

SHARON – Alexandra “Lexie” Knight said she wasn’t thinking of a particular person last year when she designed the model of the exuberant trumpeter now standing in downtown Sharon as part of a public art partnership linking the city, Sharon City School District and local businesses and organizations with George Junior Republic.

The Sharon sophomore’s design was picked last fall for fabrication over the winter and spring by students at the Pine Township school for adjudicated youth.

“I was thinking about downtown Sharon and how they’ve been trying to do things with music at WaterFire and trying to make the downtown area more colorful,” the 16-year-old said. “I kind of liked the idea of a person with musical notes around him and I wanted to show him as joyful.”

Lexie said she got helpful suggestions from Glen Sanders, director of fine arts at George Junior, and spent a couple of weeks designing the figure and crafting a small prototype using wire.

Vocational students at George Junior then cut the pieces of steel, following enlarged drawings of Lexie’s model. They welded, assembled and painted the figure that was dedicated Wednesday at the corner of West State Street and South Water Avenue.

Mark Jubelirer, president of Reyers Shoe Store, speaking for the business and community groups that embraced the partnership and funded production of the sculpture, thanked the students for their enthusiasm in bringing an imaginative design into being.

“This gift was given to us by ... young people who dreamt and crafted it,” he said. “It is soaring. It is full of hope. And it is ours.”

Karen Winner Sed, chief executive officer of Winner Companies and chairman and trustee of Sharon Regional Health System, cited economic growth as one of the benefits of incorporating the arts in city life.

“The arts are economic drivers,” she said. “Cultural tourism is becoming ever more important as a subset of tourism. ... The arts are part of that in a significant way. ... They create business that attracts business and tourists to support the entire effort.”

Sed noted that with the fourth season of WaterFire this summer, an estimated 60,000 visitors to the festival will see the colorful sculpture and the numbers will add up year by year.

Richard Losasso, chief executive officer of George Junior Republic, pointed out that the Sharon sculpture is the 11th one produced during the last six years and involving more than 700 GJR students who learned vocational skills in the production of artistic creations. The other 10 have been erected in Grove City.

Several more are in production for installation in other local towns, said Susan Boland, director of development at George Junior.

A sculpture made of stainless steel will be dedicated June 20 as part of Stoneboro’s sesquicentennial. Another, made of aluminum, will debut July 1 as part of Greenville Heritage Days, and one is on the drawing boards for Avalon Springs outside Mercer, she said.

Sharon’s newest musician has his head thrown back and trumpet held high. The notes winding around him on a musical staff will be familiar to many, Michael Calla, superintendent of Sharon schools, said. He identified them as “some of the notes in the melody of “What a Wonderful World,” by jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong.

When she designed the figure, Lexie said, she hadn’t thought about the many thousands of visitors and passersby who will see her creation made with the help of George Junior students.

“That’s pretty amazing,” she said. “I hope they like it as much as I do.”