Art for Art’s Sake.

Lluvia. Pluie. Yū. Baarish. Regen. Reën. Mvua. Tumtir. Geshem. Ame. In other words… rain. And no matter which language you choose, New Jersey has received quite a lot of the wet stuff over the past few weeks. It was a nice surprise then, that on the second day of summer the clouds parted, the sun returned, and we were treated to a gorgeous morning. Indeed, the meteorologist on our local news station told her viewers to “Make sure you go outside today!” and who are we to argue with a scientist?

Fortunately, we already had a destination chosen: Grounds for Sculpture, a 42-acre park which features over 270 sculptures in both indoor and outdoor installations. Once the site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds, Grounds for Sculpture is located in the township of Hamilton, near the state capital of Trenton. Founded in 1992, the park features not only sculptures, but also a museum, several art galleries, a cafeteria, and a French restaurant. My wife, who had planned the trip, surprised me with tickets on Saturday morning… and off we went!

It has been a while since the last post, however, so before I begin the writeup of our latest adventure, a few updates are in order:

2019 Honda CR-V in gray, parked in the bluffs above the St. Croix river.
First, a big congratulations to two of my dear readers, Chuck and Deb, who joined the family… the Honda family, that is! They recently purchased this gorgeous 2019 Honda CR-V EX. Here’s wishing you many happy miles with it!
Car odometer reading 000100 miles.
They even sent me an odometer shot at the 100 mile marker! Well done!!
Nokian WR G4 SUV tires on Jeep Grand Cherokee.
And speaking of new… the family that Nokians together stays together. My wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee recently got a tire upgrade. The Goodyear Fortera tires that came with it had worn out after only 36,000 miles, and so we replaced them with a set of Nokian WR G4 SUV tires.
Jeep Grand Cherokee in white with Nokian WR G4 SUV tires.
Similar to the tires on my Accord, these Nokians are classified as “All-Weather” and are rated for severe winter service, providing traction in conditions that would defeat all-season tires. While there won’t be any snow for six months, my wife has already reported the tires are a significant upgrade in the rain from the old Goodyears.
2012 Honda Accord in parking lot beneath sunset sky.
While a trip to Newark International Airport usually wouldn’t rate a mention in the blog, on this night the sunset was stunning.

And finally, this past month saw a major milestone for Honda – the company recently celebrated its 60th anniversary selling vehicles in the United States. Tyson Hugie, whose blog “Drive To Five” helped to inspire “The Open Road Ahead,” was invited by Honda to attend a car show in honor of the anniversary, and you can read more about his experience attending the event here.

Honda also unveiled a very cool car – a fully reconditioned N600, the very first car they ever sold in the United States. This N600, Serial Number One, was hand-restored by Honda expert Tim Ming in honor of the company’s 60th anniversary. If you’re interested in cars, business history, or just one man’s singular devotion to perfecting his art, I’d highly recommend this half-hour video:

 

And now… without further adieu… Grounds for Sculpture:

Map of New Jersey and New York with a red pin in the location of Grounds for Sculpture.
Approximately halfway between New York and Philadelphia, Grounds for Sculpture is located in Hamilton, NJ.
View of highway with signs along road that say ENTERING TWP OF HAMILTON and EXITS 65B-A SLOAN AVE 1 MILE
Welcome back, blue skies! It was great to finally need sunglasses again.
2012 Honda Accord in front of welcome center. A large statue of a couple dancing is in the background.
After forty-five minutes, we arrived at Grounds for Sculpture. The dancing couple let us know we were in the right place!
Sculpture of man and child. The man is seated on a bench, the child is holding a blanket, standing in front of the man.
As we walked in, we passed a man and his daughter by the entrance… until we realized they were made of bronze! This would not be the only time we were fooled by the realism of the statues.
Statue of man and child standing in front of gift shop in welcome center.
Statues were everywhere – even hanging out in the atrium of the welcome center!
Statue of Marilyn Monroe, holding her skirt down over a subway vent.
The museum told the history of Grounds for Sculpture. One of the first statues that caught our eye was Forever Marilyn by Seward Johnson.
Statues of six jazz musicians, playing different instruments.
My Sixteen-Year-Old Jazz Dreams, by Seward Johnson, features six cast bronzes of jazz musicians. Seward Johnson established Grounds for Sculpture, and the park features many of his painted bronzes. He is the grandson of one of the founders of the medical and pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson.
Sculpture of man looking in briefcase, with rubble and dead trees surrounding him. A building facade is in the background.
Double Check, a sculpture by Seward Johnson, was installed in Lower Manhattan in the early 1980s. On September 11, 2001, the statue was covered with ash and debris from the fallen World Trade Center buildings. It became a memorial for the victims of those attacks. This copy had originally been in Germany before Seward brought it to Grounds for Sculpture and recreated how it looked on September 11. The original sculpture remains in Manhattan.
Sculpture of bedroom with bed, chairs, window, door, small table, and paintings.
Welcome Home, also by Seward Johnson. This is not a painting – it is a three-dimensional sculpture that, when photographed, looks like a painting. Far out!
Bronze soldier riding atop horse.
For the next several hours, we would explore the park, seeing sculptures that were comical, charming, quirky, breath-taking, or downright eerie. General Bronze, by Marisol, is of the Venezuelan dictator Juan Gomez. The sculpture is meant to invoke derision, not respect.
Sculpture of woman reading on a bench.
Captured by Seward Johnson. Yet another sculpture where we thought the woman reading was a real person.
Two seashell bronze statues on a pedestal.
Legacy by Gordon Gund, inspired by two seashells that had washed ashore.
Sculpture of man and woman napping on the ground.
Ssshhh! Don’t wake them up! Testing Togetherness, by Seward Johnson.
Three men playing cards at a table.
Visitors are encouraged to (carefully) interact with the sculptures. I sat down with these gentlemen as they played poker.
Sculpture of woman and child knitting.
I didn’t interrupt this mother and daughter during their knitting, however.
Sculpture of man's head surrounded by sheep and small shepherd.
Henry Moore in a Sheep Meadow is possibly one of the more surreal sculptures I encountered.
Man in suit and top had and woman in dress and parasol beside lake.
Part I: My wife snapped this photo of a couple beside the lake.
Sculpture of artist painting at easel.
Part II: Nearby in the woods is this artist, busy at work.
Easel with painting of lake, with lake scene in background.
Part III: The artist is painting the lake scene that you can see in the distance! The interconnectedness of the sculptures was mind-blowing.
Table set for dinner, with four chairs around it.
Even this dinner table is a sculpture! We sat at the table, and fooled several people as they walked past, who all assumed we were statues. We managed to do that (unintentionally) at three different locations around the park. My favorite moment was when my wife and I sat on a bench beside the lake, our backs facing the other visitors, and we heard someone say, “Go poke that couple and see if they are real.”
Three witches standing beside a boiling cauldron.
“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble…” Among the more grotesque sculptures, these three witches stand watch beside a cauldron filled with parts of animals and human skulls.
Three figures in silhouette, watching.
Adding to the creepiness, these three figures kept a silent gaze in the woods.
Spiral sculpture of wood and bronze.
And while this might have been titled Urchin, anyone who watched the first season of True Detective would instantly think of the Yellow King of Carcosa. Creepy, indeed.
Sculpture of a man and a woman.
How about something a little less eerie? The Couple, by John Martini.
Exterior of Rat restaurant with a waterfall in the foreground.
For lunch, we headed to Rat’s Restaurant, a French dining establishment designed to be reminiscent of Monet’s hometown, Giverny.
Two waterlilies emerging from a lake.
Monet adored waterlilies, featuring them in many of his paintings, so it is only fitting that the small pond beside the restaurant is filled with them.
Waterlily resting on water.
Perhaps my favorite photograph from the day.
Platter with shrimp cocktail, and a glass of cava and an Old Fashioned.
We sat down to a delightful lunch. Our meal started with a shrimp cocktail.
Seafood salad, grilled asparagus, and steak frites.
My wife enjoyed a seafood salad while I devoured the steak frites. We shared the grilled asparagus, which was cooked to perfection.
Chocolate and coconut dessert on a plate that says HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.
Dessert… a plate of chocolate, caramel, and coconut deliciousness, which was also gluten free and vegan. Absolutely the highlight of the meal (and yes, we were definitely celebrating a special day!).
Spiral sculpture, with a reflection of the background.
After lunch, we continued walking through the park. While I have studiously avoided including a photo of myself in this blog… see if you can spot me in the sculpture. Both of me!
Sculpture of man standing at wooden fence, with corn behind him.
The realism of the sculptures continued to impress us throughout the day.
Statue of characters from American Gothic.
A larger than life sculpture of Grant Wood’s 1930 painting, American Gothic.
Five large statues of dancers by a lake.
The fanciful Daydream by Seward Johnson seemed to mark an appropriate end to our visit.
Large bronze statue of man.
Our day over, we headed back to the car when we spotted this giant. Fearsome, and seemingly more appropriate to Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, I couldn’t decide if he was telling us to come back soon, or to leave and never return? Regardless of his haunting gaze, we’ll definitely come back. It was a great time!
Car odometer reading 133866 TRIP A 182.4
The end of another journey… and the Accord continues to rack up the miles without complaint!

Grounds for Sculpture was one of the coolest sites I have ever visited in New Jersey. The park is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm, and Friday through Sunday from 10:00 am until 9:00 pm. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, $10 for students, and admission is free for members and children ages 5 and younger. Tickets are discounted $2 cheaper for adults and seniors if you order online, and given that the park does cap the number of guests each day, I would highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance to ensure that you do not show up on a day when the park is sold out. Should you be in the Philadelphia or New York areas, I would definitely suggest a detour to this fantastic museum!

Thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!

‘Til next time.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Art for Art’s Sake.

  1. Happy anniversary! Looked like a great way to spend it. Your ratio of sunny vs. cloudy days is exactly the inverse of ours. I can’t remember the last time I turned on my windshield wipers out here. I really love the art by Seward Johnson. Years ago there was a huge version of “Forever Marilyn” on display at a city park in Palm Springs, California. I think they’ve since transported it away. I think it’s cool that they encourage you to interact with the art at that facility. Also, huge congrats to Chuck & Deb, and it’s awesome of them to capture the 100-mile odo reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tyson! This was my first exposure to Seward Johnson’s works, and the lifelike quality of his bronze sculptures was truly impressive. And yeah, it was a lot of fun that the museum encouraged you to (carefully!) interact with the art. Have a great week!

      Like

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