Last Sunday I met up with a group of my peers from APLDNJ for a summer social and private tour of Grounds for Sculpture. I hadn’t been in a few years, so enough time had passed for me to see it with ‘new’ eyes. The day was blazing, the company was stimulating and as always the sculpture park was a mix of high and low, weird and wonderful and outside the box thinking.
Over 250 large and small scale sculptures are on the grounds, many in their own ‘garden’ spaces. What has always fascinated me about the park is the way plants, landscape forms and elements are used. They are an integral part of the experience.
Two Picea abies ‘Pendula’ form a living arch that frames the view of a highly polished steel sculpture just beyond it on a walkway.
One of two walkways with Corten supported turf ‘waves’.
This gabion wall supports a suspended bridge. It could have simply been filled with rip rap, but instead it is a sculptural wall that forms the backdrop of an amphitheater.
Nowhere in the park are plants used in a more arresting way than this allee of red maples. They were dug and planted as young trees in groups that had already formed. They are pruned up so their trunks form a living fence and the effect is highly sculptural.
The stone and steel sculptural piece in the foreground is entitled Grupo and is by Pat Musick.
I kept on thinking about Luis Barragan in this series of courtyards.
J. Seward Johnson, the park’s visionary philanthropist is also a sculptor and his work is throughout the park. He creates vignettes of life-sized characters doing things. The most famous are recreations of paintings by the French impressionist painters in 3-D. I find them hilarious…none more than this one of Monet’s Woman with a Parasol on a hill of grasses and plastic poppies…yes plastic.
And because this is a sculpture park I’ll show you my favorite non-plant piece (Hearts Desire by Gloria Vanderbilt) which is new to the park since I was last there and was in the ‘Garden of the Subconscious’–a meandering space formed with weeping pines and spruces.
Go if you can, it’s worth the trip.