Thursday, August 1, 2013

Grounds for Sculpture

Where You Invited? by Seward Johnson
The US is so large and diverse that it must have hundreds of fascinating places that (probably thankfully) never make it to the list of "tourist attractions".  On my last trip, my friends in Bethlehem took me to New Jersey to visit Grounds for Sculpture.  Although they have lived in Pennsylvania for many years, they only discovered it themselves a few years ago.

It’s the brainchild of Seward Johnson, renowned and successful American sculptor.  He wanted an environment where the public could interact with, and – in his words – become more comfortable with modern sculpture.  In 1987 he started the project on a vacant site which had been part of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds in the past.  The site also contained three buildings which were later used as museums.  The inaugural exhibition took place in 1992 with fifteen outdoor works.  There are now more than 250 outdoor sculptures set in wonderful gardens.  And an odd peacock wonders around for contrast.

Johnson’s work is one of the themes.  Around any corner you may find:

A Renoir painting come to life -

Déjeuner déja vu 
 or a period celebration - 

Were You Invited?
or a girl taking a shower with real water -

or an unnamed collection of ghouls preparing a feast -

  But there is tremendous variety and many styles to appreciate. 

Like -

and -

and -

and -

Or George Segal's moving Depression Bread Line -

Too much for one visit.

I’d like to go back.

Every time any one of us posts a blog on Murderiseverywhere, we do, and always will, think of Leighton. Tsamaya sentle,  my friend.

Michael – Thursday.


  1. Michael, I was born in New Jersey, and you just told me something about it that I didn't know. Next time you go to Grounds for Sculpture, please tell me so I can drive down and meet you. By the way, Leighton was born in New Jersey too. Our much maligned native state has a lot to offer. Thanks for plugging it here

  2. What a magnificent find! I live at the two angles of the equilateral triangle formed with Hamilton, NJ as the apex and never heard of it either! And a South African shall lead them. Thank you, Michael.

  3. I'm not surprised you don't know of it. Even my friends across the way in Pennsylvania only heard about it by word of mouth. It's definitely worth the trip!

  4. Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your posts. Thanks a lot!
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  5. Michael, the first and last sculptures sum up life. The first is about the joy that comes from sharing good times with friends. The last is a stunning statement about the isolation of those moments when one must face the worst alone. My mother told me two stories about her experience during the Depression. When anyone was fortunate enough to get a job interview, friends would contribute the best pieces of clothing they had so that the the person could make a good first impression. On the other hand, people would open soup cans from the bottom so the the cans could be cleaned and placed back in the pantry, giving the impression that the family had food. In neither case was anyone fooled.

    It is going to take some time before I can blog about Leighton. I started the blog, Murder By Type, at Leighton's suggestion so that I could bring some bit of attention to writers who were not getting the public mention they deserved. Leighton never stopped supporting writers and readers.


  6. This post made my day and the next thing on my bucket list too!!

  7. Love the sculptures! My college degree is in Art, even though I've earned my living for over 30 years as a computer programmer... Too bad it's on the other side of the continent, and I REALLY hate to fly these days. Sigh. But your basic point applies equally well to the west coast, and you've taken me on another trip to a place I've never been and may never visit. Thanks!

  8. Thanks very much for the comments. I also found that last sculpture very moving, Beth, and my friends specially sought it out to show it to me. (The grounds are so extensive that it's easy to miss even a large piece like this one. The figures are life size.)
    I have to say that this is worth that flight, Everett, although I know how you feel about argument! I hope you are closer, Debbie, because this really is worth the trip.
    And Jim, thanks for the encouragement! Hope to hear from you again soon.