Yesterday we visited a wonderful place called Grounds for Sculpture. Here is some background: In 1984, Seward Johnson, sculptor and philanthropist, and heir to the immense medical products fortune of Johnson & Johnson, founded by his grandfather, envisioned a public sculpture garden and museum in Hamilton, NJ. His desire was to make contemporary sculpture accessible and offer people from all backgrounds the opportunity to become comfortable with contemporary art. Grounds For Sculpture was conceived as a place where people could experience sculpture in an accessible and informal setting. Construction on the sculpture park began in 1989 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds, consisting of 42 acres, and opened to the general public in 1992. The park is now exhibiting over 270 works, including sculptures of life-size cast bronze figures, some 27 feet tall, and many replicating scenes from famous works of art by Monet, Renoir and Manet.
I found the park to be a true oasis, part garden, part fantasy, all beauty. We roamed through areas of grass and manicured flowers, under arbors of vines and stalks of bamboo. We came upon Seward Johnson’s interpretation of Edouard Manet’s ‘Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe’Henri Rousseau’s ‘The Dream’ (this version including husband)
Claude Monet’s “Woman with a Parasol”Then there was the 27 foot sculpture based on a photo taken by Victor Jorgensen of the VJ Day Kiss in Times Square. Note how tiny the people standing under it are in comparisonand Marilyn Monroe from the Seven Year Itch
Seward Johnson also has a collection of ordinary people engaged in everyday activities, which are a bit disconcerting when you come upon them as they are so lifelike. We did mistake real people for statues as we walked the park, if someone was standing still or sitting on one of the many benches or chairs you couldn’t always tell who was real and who was not. Can you tell if the man sitting in the leaves is real? (He’s not)