Cornelius sculptor Jon Hair had what he considers a “landmark year” in 2012, winning four national sculpture competitions, installing sculptures at five universities and beginning work on several more.“I’m hitting my stride,” Hair, 63, said in a Feb. 19 interview at his Jon Hair Studio of Fine Art on Treynorth Drive, off N.C. 115. “It’s the Jon Hair art machine. We’re in overdrive.”Hair, meanwhile, is in discussions with two cities – one in North Carolina and the other in Florida – about creating a Jon Hair Museum and Sculpture Park, which would include a working studio and foundry. He now uses foundries in Oregon, Colorado and California for his works.Hair declined to name the cities but said that if one of them agrees to proceed with such a plan, he would relocate his 7,000-square-foot Cornelius studio there.Hair, who lives on Lake Norman in Cornelius, has made 40 monumental sculptures for universities, cities and towns nationwide since beginning his sculpting career in 1999. He’s also completed 30 life-size sculptures and 80 smaller works, including busts for such Hollywood actors as Dick Van Dyke.Hair also has been named an official sculptor of the U.S. Olympic Team and U.S. Olympic Committee. “Olympic Strength,” his 35-foot bronze-and-steel monument commissioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee, greets visitors to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.His 12-foot-tall “Lucky 8” sculpture permanently graces Beijing International Sculpture Park, set there in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.His commissioned pieces have ranged anywhere from $25,000 for a portrait bust to $1 million for “Olympic Strength,” he said.His 24-foot sculpture of Christopher Newport was a $350,000 commissioned piece. Newport captained one of three ships to land in 1607 at Jamestown, Va., North America’s first permanent English settlement.A 20-foot boilermaker outside Purdue University’s football stadium in Indiana was a $500,000 commission, he said. Hair said his wife, Patricia, urged him to pursue figurative sculpting when he considered launching into sculpting full-time. He’s also been a nationally award-winning art director and designer for 25 years, with clients including IBM, General Electric, Siemens and Husqvarna Corp.Patricia had second thoughts six months later when no work materialized. Hair smiled when recalling how his wife told him, “We’re going to go broke.” But his career took off after he landed his first piece, a sculpture of a Miccosukee Native American boy and two egrets for the Miccosukee Resort Hotel in Miami, Fla.Hair continues to work late into the night in his studio, where he also hosts regular tour groups of all ages for free. The studio features a gallery floored with black granite and displaying several dozen of his original limited-edition bronze sculptures.In a typical year, Hair said, he receives commissions for four or five monumental sculptures. He typically competes against 15 to 30 other sculptors for a commissioned piece, he said.Hair’s first 2012 win was a commission for three larger-than-life wild mustang horses for the town of Chino Valley, Ariz. The sculptures will adorn the town’s first traffic roundabout.The work is in progress and will be installed this summer.Next, Hair was awarded a commission from N.C. State University for a stone stele, or slab, sculpture of coach Norm Sloan. It’s scheduled for installation sometime later this year.His third win was from the city of Wilmington, Del., for a statue of legendary jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. Along with the 8-foot bronze figure, Hair sculpted a bronze relief portrait of Brown for the statue pedestal.He even designed and fabricated a 21-foot aluminum sign for Kirkwood Park, the site of the installation, because he couldn’t find the park when he came to check out the installation site, he said. The state of Indiana, meanwhile, chose Hair to sculpt bronze portrait busts of two African-American legislators for the Indiana Statehouse Rotunda. Work is in progress and is scheduled for installation sometime this year.Also in 2012, Hair installed his 8-foot Patrick Henry and John Emory sculptures at Emory & Henry College in Emory, Va. He won the commissions during a national competition in 2010. Other 2012 installations included his 24-foot stainless steel abstract piece titled “Aspire” at Appalachian State University in Boone and his 24-foot bronze-and-granite contemporary piece “Ascend” at UNC Charlotte.Five new sculptures were installed at High Point University in January 2012: Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Beethoven and Teddy Roosevelt, which joined Hair’s previous 16 historic bench figures at the school and his “The Tree of Learning,” a 12-foot monument celebrating the school’s dedication to quality education. More on commissions will be ready this year.Meanwhile, “Cut Back,” a 9-foot bronze of a running football player, was installed at Lenoir-Rhyne University in October, his third on that campus. UNC Charlotte dedicated his portrait bust of former N.C. Sen. Irwin Belk on Dec. 13. The university also commissioned two 12-foot running football players for its new football stadium, which were installed several weeks ago, he said.New commissions in progress include an 8-foot “Golden Knight” for Gannon University in Erie, Pa., and an 8-foot “Great Horned Owl” for Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa.Hair’s “Thomas Jefferson” also was installed in 2012 in the town of Jefferson, Iowa, his first sculpture in his home state.