The Artsy Files: Grounds for Sculpture

After getting some bad news and struggling through the last few weeks, my sisters and I decided that we needed to get away, even just for the day, and do something together. We needed sister time, fresh air, and a new perspective. So last Saturday, with no parents, no husbands, no fiancés, and no friends, the three of us headed off to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey.

The beautiful grounds.

The beautiful grounds.

We couldn’t have picked a better day. The highest temperatures we’ve had all year, grouped with bright sunshine and light breezes, greeted us when we arrived. We paid our admission, which was $15 each and seemed quite reasonable to me. My sister was still a student, so her fare was only $10- even better! She had visited twice before, once for a class and once with friends, so we left it up to her to plan our route around the exhibits. Grounds for Sculpture is basically a big park, dotted randomly with all sorts of sculptures and artwork. Unlike many museums, photography and touching art pieces “with care and respect” are encouraged (with a few exceptions, marked by red signs). For a group of three sisters who have been known to pose like a few statues in their day (just take a look at my recent post about National Sibling Day for proof of this), this was a fun place to be. Most of the sculptures of people in various positions doing everyday tasks were the work of Seward Johnson, an accomplished American artist.

One of Seward Johnson's works.

One of Seward Johnson’s works.

As we moved our way around the space and from one statue to the next, I said, “Wow, this Seward Johnson guy sure has a lot sculptures here.”

“I think he actually founded this place,” my sister answered.

Posing near a classic.

Posing near a classic.

It didn’t take long to confirm my sister’s guess. According to the Grounds for Sculpture website, Seward Johnson wanted to provide a way for the average person to see and appreciate contemporary sculpture art. In my humble opinion, he succeeded. His sculptures always snuck up on us, never letting us know whether they were a real person or a statue until we took a second or third look. They were always posed in such a real way- seated on a bench, lying in the grass- and the details went down to the wrinkles in their shirts. We made ourselves become a part of the art by sitting down next to them and reading their newspaper, or by taking their hand and pretending to walk with them, or even by mimicking their poses and staring into their eyes. I’m not sure what artists or true art aficionados would have to say about, but for a layman like me it was interesting and fun.

There was more abstract art as well, shapes and lines stacked on top of one another, things that I can’t even begin to explain or understand. Still interesting to look at, especially as such a marked contrast to the bright and realistic sculptures of people. Most art just flies right over my head, but this was accessible enough for me to appreciate. Dotted around the park surrounded by regular sized art were some larger than life depictions of iconic scenes, including Marilyn Monroe and the American Gothic painting. So catchy!

Another iconic larger than life depiction.

Another iconic larger than life depiction.

When it was time for lunch, we headed to the less expensive of the two opened eateries, The Peacock Café. We ordered chicken fingers and French fries and found a great partially shaded table in the pretty garden. As we were munching on the tasty food, the café earned its name. No fewer than three peacocks wandered between the tables and made themselves known. They got so close we were able to take selfies with them. After finishing our meal, we didn’t have to go too far in order to see one spread its feathers. Beautiful!

Beautiful!

One of the many peacocks struts his stuff.

After lunch we wandered over to a part of the park called the meadow, which we promptly wanted to rename, “the desert”. The art there was gorgeous and unique. There were no trees or plants around it which made for a truly striking landscape. However, it also made for a very hot experience! I hadn’t realized how much the trees along the pathways had been helping keep me comfortable. We explored this area rather quickly before realizing we had seen pretty much all there is to see.

Trying to imitate a striking sculpture in the meadow area.

Trying to imitate a striking sculpture in the meadow area.

It was truly a lovely day at Grounds for Sculpture with my sisters. We enjoyed the weather, the plants, the company, and of course, the art. I have absolutely no education in art and zero talent for making it myself. But I had fun here and I would consider returning.

gfs 5

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