Jun 21, 2021

Forty Two Acres Of Pure Beauty

Grounds For Sculpture
Hamilton, NJ
One of my new friends that I've met on Twitter during The Last Drive-In works at this incredible sculpture park, so I decided to pay it a visit.  As usual, I did the bare minimum of research into the place before heading down there.  This isn't due to laziness or a lack of interest.  It's for the same reason that I avoid movie trailers or reviews - I like to go into new experiences with no expectations and absorb as much of it as I can in person.  I love art, and my godfather is a sculptor, but my knowledge of sculpting and art in general could easily fit on an index card with lots of room to spare, so I had no idea of what to expect before we arrived.  Now, I know I've praised plenty of places and things on this blog to high heaven, but I truly cannot say enough good things about Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton Township, New Jersey.

We visited yesterday, and you seriously couldn't have asked for a better day; a sunny 82 degrees without a drop of rain.  It's a 2 hour and 10 minute drive from my house, but we decided to take the scenic route and save a few bucks on tolls, so we made it in about 2:30.  As beautiful as the drive was, it paled in comparison to the plants and artwork on display on the grounds.

I am not at all qualified as a writer, photographer or art lover to do justice to this place, but I will say that if you like these photos even a little bit and you live within driving distance, you really should check this place out.  It's an absolute steal at $18 bucks to get in.  Quite frankly, they could charge double and it would still be a bargain.  You could easily spend hours getting lost in the twists and turns and having your mind blown repeatedly by your surroundings.

This is a very small sampling of some of my favorite parts of the grounds.

Seward Johnson (2016)
This one reminded me of the Trimaxion Drone Ship in Flight Of The Navigator.
Isaac Witkin (1994)

The grounds are filled with cool pathways through trees and other plantlife like this one.  There are about a thousand places that would be perfect to lay down with a book or relax with a cup of coffee and just melt into the atmosphere.
This was one of my favorite pieces on the grounds for several reasons.  First, just look at it.  It's bad ass!  Second, there were pipes that shot mists of water to make it look like smoke was rising from the cauldron.  Not only did this look awesome, but it was very cooling on a hot day.  Last, but not least, you have to love what Mr. Johnson named this work.

I may have spent a little too much time here and annoyed the trio of demons, and... well... um... I may have lost my head for a moment.

Thankfully, the demons weren't in the mood for Italian, so they released me from the stew pot. ☺
This one reminded me of the Arwing spaceship that you pilot in Starfox and Starfox 64.  It was sitting in the middle of a body of water in an especially beautiful part of the grounds, so I took a few extra photos of this one.

Even the ducks were in awe of Dorion.

I know that the Great Depression was a serious issue, but I couldn't resist...

Say there, buddy, can you tell me what kind of bread they've got in there?  Seven grain?  Pumpernickel?  I could really go for some pumpernickel right about now; know what I mean?
Carlos Dorrien (1990-97)

Helena Lukasova (1999) 

This pathway was one of my favorite parts of the grounds.  It leads to the gazebo, the warming hut, and a clearing where The Oligarchs are on display.
Michelle Post (2014) 

I'm sorry, I don't remember the name of this piece or its artist.  I tried to find it on the website, but no luck so far.

Two Face Telescope
Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas (1990) 

Die Fussballer                                                                        Two Figure Composition
Petro Hul (1997)                                                                        Paul Muick (1999)

Mood Stone
This was one of my favorite sculptures.  It was at the end of a narrow path and was surrounded by plants.  The way everything is arranged, you don't see that there's a child sitting and reading a book until you've walked up to it.
Seward Johnson (2017)
I thought this was Mary and Joseph at first, until I saw the massive pile of gold coins in the boat. 

This is another one of my favorite works on display.  Each artist is working on a painting of one of the other artists, and an unaccompanied easel has a completed work of all of the artists who are hard at work.  This series of sculptures was completed the year before Mr. Johnson passed away.

There are many plaques of poetry to be found among the plant life and sculptures on the grounds.  They definitely add to the peaceful and serene atmosphere. 

This sculpture display was completed by Seward Johnson in 2001.  It pays tribute to the 19th century Renoir painting - Luncheon Of The Boating PartyClick here to see more.
This is another one of my favorites.  I absolutely love the shades of blue that make this feel like a painting has come to life.  The dude laying back in the t-shirt holding a cigarette reminds me very much of my dad.

This display is absolutely brilliant!  It's hidden away down a side path that is surrounded by trees and plants, so you don't see the woman as you're approaching.  You can hear her though, because this is a real shower with running water hitting the stone floor.  Also, there is a radio playing the love song "I Only Have Eyes For You", and a second recording of a lone female voice singing along with the radio.  I swear, for a split second when I walked up to this sculpture, I thought I had accidentally stumbled across a woman singing in the shower.  This, of course, is exactly what you're meant to feel when you discover her.
This sculpture is across the lake from the restaurant where we had lunch.  The top photo is the view of it from the outdoor seating patio.  It reminded me a little bit of the head of the sphinx where the Morlock lure in the Eloi in the original film adaptation of HG Wells' The Time Machine.

To the best of my knowledge, this is not an art display.  It's just a little seating area with a table, but I think it's beautiful.  I would love to be able to relax here with coffee and play chess with my grandfather. 

Dana Stewart (1987) 
This was another one of my favorites!  In fact, if I was allowed to pick any one sculpture to bring home and display in my back yard, it would be this little guy.

I didn't catch the name of this, and it might not actually be an art display, but it's awesome.  I love the random doors that you stumble upon throughout the grounds.  They remind me of Jake Chambers trying to find his way back to Roland in The Dark Tower III

This reminded me of Burgess Meredith the end of the Twilight Zone episode Time Enough At Last.  As much as I love that episode, the real story behind this sculpture might be even more incredible.  It is definitely more heartbreaking and immediately brings you back to a moment in history that will never be forgotten.

Damn.  Just... damn.

The display inside this room is called Welcome Home, and there's too much to see here to try to squeeze it into this post.  Click here for more.

Seward Johnson (early 1970s)
The information on the walls near this sculpture say that this is the only sculpture that Seward Johnson won an award for.  I'm not sure what Mr. Johnson had in mind when he created it, but it gave me a very sad and helpless feeling, and it reminded me of all of the victims of sexual violence throughout our world.

These pictures don't even begin to cover the beauty and the sheer volume of artwork on display at the grounds.  For every one piece you see here, I saw at least twenty others that I didn't take a photo of, and I'm sure there are things that we didn't see.  I'll definitely be coming back to explore again.  In fact, this may end up becoming a yearly tradition.

Seriously, even if art and sculptures really aren't your thing, you really should check this place out if you can.  It is a truly peaceful and beautiful experience and I'm sure you will be glad that you got to experience it.