by Joe Trinacria

Artist Joe Winter (second from right) had the opportunity to present a replica of his landmark “three bears” sculpture to Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Thursday, June 28. With Joe are his wife, (left) who is also an artist, and daughter. Both are named Kathy. (Photo by Henry Jaffe)

For one local artist, celebrating the rich history of art in Philadelphia with Mayor Michael Nutter was a thrill like no other.

Chestnut Hill resident Joe Winter, who in 1966 sculpted the famous “Family of Bears” statue in the park at 3rd and Delancey Streets, presented a reproduction of that piece to the Mayor this past week. The model is approximately a 1/8th size scale of the original, and is made out of a sturdy cast stone that is nearly unbreakable.

“I had originally gotten the idea to make the reproductions and sell them to the public,” Winter said. “I had them advertised in Philadelphia Magazine and various other media outlets when my children suggested that I give one to the Mayor.”

Mayor Nutter humbly accepted the gesture, and the two met Thursday afternoon for a photo op and a chance to discuss the current landscape of Philadelphia’s thriving arts community.

“Really it was an appreciation for all of his support of the arts in Philadelphia,” Winter said. “It was a very warm occasion. The Mayor was extremely friendly and interested, and I came away being very impressed with him as a gentleman. Not pompous or self-centered at all. Really a great guy.”

Winter has lived in the area since the early 1960s and has been professionally sculpting for more than 50 years, following his graduation from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Currently, Winter and his wife, Kathy, who is also an artist, practice their craft in their carriage house on West Meade Street.

Reproductions of the sculpture are available for sale to the public, costing $125 each. To order a scale model or find out more information about Joe Winter visit http://www.winterartstudio.com/index.php.