We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Several years ago, my wife purchased a gift card as a Christmas present for my parents. It was for a meal at Rat's Restaurant on the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. My parents used the card 2 years ago, they have since returned twice. Their third visit was two weekends ago, and we joined them. Unfortunately, some personal issues limited our time on the grounds prior to dinner, but for 45 minutes we wandered among the artwork. What we saw was impressive and enjoyable.
The Grounds for Sculpture opened in 1992, the vision of J. Seward Johnson (of the Johnson & Johnson family). He took 42 acres, formerly the NJ State Fairgrounds, and transformed it into part botanical garden and part sculpture garden and museum. Johnson creates some of the work, though most is provided by other artists. It is an eclectic mix of styles, designed to fit within the existing environment, although at times the environment is altered slightly to work with the art.
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.
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The first thing we saw was a water feature, populated with several works, such as the head in the middle of the pond, and a piece resembling Chinese characters.
As we walked along the path toward the larger lake which borders the property, there was a J. Seward Johnson replication of Renoir's The Boating Party. It was a wonderful use of local landscape, transforming the original. Johnson added his own interesting twist. In the painting, there is part of a top hat visible in the background, belonging to one of the attendees at the party. Johnson used this to add a second table, around which he placed sculpted renditions of his team which created this work for the Grounds.
We turned from there, and entered an open area populated with a variety of different sculptures. Each one was placed to mix with the landscape, or had the landscape altered slightly to meet the needs of the piece. This one reminded me of a Dolmen:
It was unfortunate our day was so cloudy. We determined the next visit would occur on a sunny day, around dusk, when the light would be more generous to the artwork. Eventually, we turned and headed back to Rat's for dinner. Rat's is excellent, and has a fairly extensive menu. The food is from local providers, so it is fresh. I had a New York Strip, my wife had the Pocono Rainbow Trout. It was too cold to eat outdoors, unfortunately, but we hope our next visit will allow us to enjoy the exterior.