The train from New York's Penn Station stops frequently, and the further I get, the emptier it becomes. When I get off at Hamilton, New Jersey, I ask around for directions. With no taxi in sight, I decide to walk, braving the strong, icy wind. Tall, colourful sculptures stand close by, and I feel I am on the way. There are several more realistic sculptures standing next to the road, and after I walk through an industrial part of town, I reach the entrance of Grounds for Sculpture, my destination for the afternoon. I set out to explore the venue, and quickly realize it is big, and I need to hurry a little because the sun will set early today. I walk up a hillock, where I get close to Olympia, a sculpture after the painting by Monet, of a voluptuous naked woman lying on a bed, one slipper lost on the ground, and an arching black cat at her feet. It is only the first of many more realistic sculptures making the park lively. Here is one: a couple about to kiss, half hidden under a small bridge, and I almost keep distance out of respect for their private moment, before realizing it is only a sculpture.
One thing is for sure: the ice cold wind blowing over the venue makes that I have the park virtually to myself. The small ponds are frozen, and I keep on moving so my blood keeps on streaming through my veins. There are daring works of art, of many kinds and colours, some more inspiring than others. There is a small lake, with a restaurant which, I am sure, must be great when the weather allows to sit outside. Now, I walk the empty terrace to the other side where I see an elegant red and gold lady on the water. Alas; she, too, is a sculpture... I then enter tableaus which are three-dimensional sculptures of paintings; a style of art in which Seward Johnson, the founder of Grounds for Sculpture, has specialised. This particular sculpture, Were You Invited, where a party is sitting at a table, drinking, eating and talking, is so big and realistic that you can walk around in it. It is funny how these people are all dressed up for a warm summer day, while I walk around with a thick coat, gloves and woollen hat to protect myself against the freezing temperatures.
After a short walk along the lakeside, I spot a Venus in a huge shell, with backlight. Close by, I find the Chamber of Internal Dialogue, which can actually be entered. Inside, I find a sofa, where you can pretend being at a therapist for, well, internal dialogue. One side of the small building has a sculpture depicting the Scream by Edvard Munch, contrasting with the serene figure which can be seen inside the building. I walk through a forest, see many different sculptures on my way to the Sculpture Court. Behind the collection of sculptures here, I enter the museum building which has some large works of art made by chunks of rock representing male and female torsos. Being in the building also allows me to warm up a little, before heading outside again. I complete my tour of the exciting sculpture garden, and when darkness sets in, go inside to see the collection of sculptures by Seward Johnson. There is the sculpture of a businessman sitting on a bench, which became a symbol of hope in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and several famous paintings made into 3D versions. Here, you can actually walk into rooms that are paintings, or see The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Vermeer behind the frame of a painting. Next time, I want to see the museum grounds in spring - certainly, a much different sight.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Grounds for Sculpture (U.S.A.). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Grounds for Sculpture.
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