Welcome-and abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
We'll stop the bleeding and let this stand as a representative sample. Clearly, some of this stuff was knocked off quickly. Some of it seems painfully pre-civil rights, some of it falls squarely in the tchotchke category (thanks, E. Doberman, whose comment inspired this post), some of it is carefully done yet still inept and some of it is just weird.
On a larger scale, the culture as a whole occasionally turns its resources to commissioning public jazz statuary. Here are Oscar Peterson, Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.
The results do not inspire confidence for the aesthetic future.
Why is there so little good jazz art-aside from album covers, the loss of which was a definite blow to the visual side of jazz. Is this just a jazz issue or is art not a good subject for art?
Maybe the problem begins when people start believing that someone is "larger than life." This is the road to romantic tripe and cultural ruin.
Is it really impossible for us to have music as a beautiful pursuit, relief, even escape, in our lives and not bleed the humanity out of our artists? As the mortician replaces blood with formaldehyde, we want to replace actual character, in all its contradictory, petty, wretchedly excessive glory, with a misty, fusty mythology.
I think there is a alternative choice: let's face the music and dance.