Walking around Pocket Park in the heart of Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood, it’s hard to miss the 16-foot tall sculpture of a jovial man playing the trumpet next to his pup. The Buckeye Trumpet Man and Dog, or Jazz Man as he’s sometimes called, was unveiled in 2008 as one of the centerpieces of Pocket Park’s redesign. Today, the Trumpet Man and Dog are beloved pieces of public art and the sculpture has become the unofficial greeter for attendees of Buckeye’s Annual Jazz Festival.
Buckeye Trumpet Man and Dog have the signature look of artist James Simon’s work. Simon’s sculptures have a fun, folk-art feel - gleeful expressions, instruments, and companions (the dog in this case) give his work a friendly, whimsical, and contemporary feel.
Simon strives to capture the essence of culture and community wherever his installations live. In the case of Pocket Park, Simon worked with developers to incorporate some of the goals for the redesign of the former parking lot. As part of the Buckeye neighborhood development, city planners wanted to transform the area into an arts and culture district that could serve as a venue for community events, music festivals, and improve the backdrop of everyday life. Simon and other artists were commissioned to design tiled seating walls, sculptures, murals, and collages to brighten the park. The Trumpet Man and Dog were dreamed up to honor Cleveland’s long history of being a hotspot for jazz in middle-America. Jazz giants like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillespie were regulars in the jazz halls in downtown Cleveland. Today, the genre continues to thrive here even as it dwindles in mainstream culture.