At its best J. Seward Johnson’s sculptures whimsically engage viewers in seeing other artists’ work differently. One theme of his sculpture is to recreate scenes made famous by impressionist painters. Dejeuner Déjà Vu is so perfectly set into the surrounding landscape the viewer steps into and through the painting, a feeling much like suddenly becoming Alice in Wonderland. Johnson’s works are featured in both the museum and throughout the grounds. The placement of each sculpture invites visitors to become visual explorers, looking high and low, searching out specific works or finding new personal favorites.
Johnson’s Double Check became a makeshift memorial after 9/11 and the scene is recreated in the museum. Double Check shows a thoughtful side of his work as a counterbalance to whimsy. The massive King Lear statue commands you to look again and again at the lines, the shredded metal and the face of a tragic actor.
Dozens of other contemporary sculptors’ works are on display appealing to the eclectic tastes of visitors. Daniel Kainz work, Harmony 3, invites you to walk around it and observe how the work changes with the light and point of view. General Bronze by Marisol Escobar cleverly hid the end of all dictators inside the horse’s body. Had the docent not pointed this out, it’s unlikely that visitors would think to look inside the rectangular opening in the horse’s rear end. There lies in state the sculpted body of the prior dictator.
If indulging in wonder is not enough to move you to visit, then consider these reasons. Grounds For Sculpture is 42 acres containing almost 300 contemporary sculptures. The grounds are also a garden with over 2,000 trees representing more than 100 species. The flower photo is their unique cultivar of a Devil’s Lilly. The lavender color and double blossom are what makes the blossom unique.
If you decide to go, visit Hours, Admission + Directions – Grounds For Sculpture for the information you’ll need. There is ample free parking and bus tours are accommodated.