Grounds for Sculpture
In 1984, J. Seward Johnson, sculptor and philanthropist, envisioned a public sculpture garden and museum in Hamilton, NJ. His desire was to make contemporary sculpture as an art form more accessible and to offer people from all backgrounds the opportunity to become comfortable with contemporary art. Grounds For Sculpture was conceived as a place where audiences could experience sculpture in a familiar, accessible, and informal setting.
Construction on the sculpture park began in 1989 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds; Grounds For Sculpture opened to the general public in 1992. Since its inception, the park has built a collection of over 240 works, including sculptures by renowned artists Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, and New Jersey sculptor George Segal. Some of the works in the collection were commissioned specifically for the sculpture park, such as Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Space of Stone and New Jersey artist Isaac Witkin’s Garden State. Work on the park and sculpture acquisitions were financed by public tax-exempt bonds and private foundations associated with founder J. Seward Johnson.
Since 2000, Grounds For Sculpture is a public not-for-profit corporation with a Board of Trustees overseeing the successful operation of New Jersey’s foremost sculpture park and museum. As a not-for-profit and public institution, Grounds For Sculpture relies on the support of visitors, art patrons, donations and grants to offer its rich programs and activities each year.
As you enjoy your visit please note that all sculptures throughout the park have plaques which indicate whether or not they may be touched. Some of the sculptures may not be touched in order to protect the surface finishes and for your own safety. Please touch only the designated sculptures with care and respect. Please do not climb on the sculptures.
Visitors to the park can enjoy the outdoor permanent collection, indoor seasonal exhibitions, and learn about contemporary sculpture through a variety of educational programs including workshops for adults and children, artist residencies and lectures, tours for adults, schoolchildren, toddlers, as well as touch tours for the blind. In addition, the park also offers various events, a 35-acre arboretum, shopping and dining, including the high-rated fine dining destination known as Rat’s Restaurant. In 2007, over 100,000 people visited Grounds For Sculpture.
The collection and exhibits at Grounds For Sculpture contain art works that may be of a challenging, sensitive and/or mature nature. Please be aware and consult GFS staff for advice if you have concerns in those regards.
The curatorial focus of Grounds For Sculpture is to present the work of both established and emerging sculptors. Emerging sculptors are defined as artists at the beginning of their careers as well as artists whose work has contributed to the field of contemporary sculpture significantly without accompanying recognition. The outdoor exhibition grows by approximately 15 sculptures annually. New additions outdoors are selected to augment indoor exhibitions, to add new artists to the sculpture park, and to work in conjunction with the landscaped environment.
Most of the sculptures on exhibit outdoors are displayed courtesy of The Sculpture Foundation, Inc., a charitable foundation that collects works of art by American and international artists. The Foundation supports Grounds For Sculpture by lending works for exhibit in the park. Sculptures in a variety of styles and media, including bronze, steel, stone, wood, concrete and mixed media are represented.
There are several current exhibitions running through April 10th:
Deborah Butterfield has alway used horses as her motif. Her artwork in Noble Steedsis made of found metal or discarded pieces of wood - or cast bronze to resemble those media. Her horses are elegant, gentle representations of these magnificent animals. While not realistically portrayed, each sculpture conceptualizes the heart and spirit of a horse. Movement is implied rather than overt, evoking the serene and profoundly moving existence of an animal much loved by the artist.
Hewn from massive tree trunks using chain saws and chisels, the sculptures of Emilie Benes Brzezinski in Re:Forestation are powerful, but sensitive works that reveal an almost personal story. In bearing the marks of the artist, they emphasize the process as much as the result. Brzenzinski frequently clusters them to simulate both forests and communities. In this way, she presents a dynamic but elemental dialogue among nature, culture, time, the artist and the viewer.
Felix, Joseph, and Krissa López's work in The López Family: Santeros exhibits a centuries-old artistic tradition - the carving of saints. Originally conceived as substitutes for the religious images from Spain and Mexico that were almost impossible to come by for 18th century colonists in New Mexico, these carvings became important works of art recognized for their own merit. Made of materials native to the region, the sculptures are either in the round or in relief and contain faith-based images. Felix, his son Joseph and his daughter Krissa are nationally known for the delicate and tender interpretations they render in wood and paint.
Grounds For Sculpture is also please to present, in the Education Gallery of the Seward Johnson Center for the Arts, Focus on Sculpture 2011. First established in 1999 as a unique way of viewing sculpture through another medium, Focus on Sculpture is a juried exhibition of work by amateur photographers that feature sculpture or sculptural elements as subject. This year, 22 photographs were selected from nearly 200 submissions by distinguished juror Stephen Perloff, a photographer, curator, well-respected critic and editor of The Photo Review.
Self-guided tour maps of the grounds and exhibition catalogues are available in the Visitor's Center.
Tour Grounds For Sculpture with a trained Volunteer Docent! Tours are available for adults, schoolchildren, toddlers and the visually impaired.
Guided tours are available to schools and other student or adult groups by appointment only. For more information, please call Yoriko Franklin, Tour Coordinator at (609) 586-0616.
Touch Tours are available for the visually impaired. Specially designed with the help of The NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the Touch Tour features a variety of outdoor sculptures that can be handled with care while the work is described by a Volunteer Docent. For more information or to arrange a touch tour, please call Yoriko Franklin, Tour Coordinator at (609) 586-0616.
Weekend drop-in tours are offered April - October. Drop-in tours are scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and 1pm. From May 14 - September 4, 2011, there will be an additional weekend tour offered at 3pm. Reservations are not required for drop-in tours and there is no additional charge to participate. Meet Grounds For Sculpture's Volunteer Docents inside the Visitor's Center 10 minutes before the hour.
Weekday drop-in tours are offered May - October. Drop-in tours are scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 11am and 1pm. Reservations are not required for drop-in tours and there is no additional charge to participate. Mee Grounds For Sculpture's Volunteer Docents inside the Visitor's Center 10 minutes before the hour.
Where to Dine:
Charlie Brown's Steakhouse, famous for its prime rib, offers top quality fare without hurting your pocketbook. The young ones will not be disappointed with the kid's menu, and just might even try something green from the salad bar. Adults will love the quality steaks, chicken and rib dishes. The express lunches are great for those saddled with time constraints.
Choices, choices, choices! You can opt for pastas, chicken, seafood and veal, in addition to many daily specials, at Amici Milano Restaurant, a city institution.
Where to Stay:
Stay right in the thick of many government buildings and Sun Center at the Trenton Marriott at Lafayette Yard.
Designed with the environment in mind, the Element Ewing Hopewell gets 35 percent of its power from the sun, incorporates recycled materials into its super-sleek furnishings and eschews bottled water in favor of a tap for purified water in each room.
Enjoy easy access to I-95 from SpringHill Suites Ewing.
Sources: visitnj.org, Wikipedia.org, groundsforsculpture.org, aaa.com
Photos courtesy of walhalla, 68518558@N00 and silvertje