Grounds for Sculpture

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.

Picea abies 'Pendula'

Two Picea abies ‘Pendula’ form a living arch that frames the view of  a highly polished steel sculpture just beyond it on a walkway.

Undulating walk

One of two walkways with Corten supported turf ‘waves’.

Gabion Wall

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.

Red Maple Allee

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.

Water Feature

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.

Fake Poppies et al.

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.

Kewpie dolls in Hell (not it's real name)

Go if you can, it’s worth the trip.

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8 thoughts on “Grounds for Sculpture

  1. I like the undulating walk and the courtyard scene the best–but you know me. I like structures and rocks.

    There’s a whole rockery and dry garden area that we skipped because it was just too hot out! It’s beautiful in early spring with winter blooming jasmine (Jasminum nudifolium) everywhere.–s

  2. Very cool place.
    Must add it to my ‘must see’ list.
    “Rock in Bondage” would be a hit her in my neck of the woods.
    Loved the alle’ and the undulating core ten border.

    There’s so much more too see here. Plants are used as sculptural elements everywhere. Masses and single specimens of the common place, obscure and fake. Much like the sculptures themselves.–s

  3. This was FUN! Thank you and the Monet woman in poppies is hilarious. I like a good sense of humor.

    Love the maple alle’ and the water features. Well, I loved most all of it.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

    It is fun Sharon. There’s so much more…tree houses, lotus ponds, serpents to climb on, serious art and serious plants. If you have the opportunity to go it’s worth the trip.–s

  4. Thanks for sharing. It’s been on my list for awhile. Love the gabion wall.

    I was happy to see that wall since I’m using one in a client’s project so I have a ‘funky’ picture to show her!–s

  5. interesting – the gabions, weathering steel, mounding and tree arches reminded me of various projects in Melbourne, Australia – there is a universal design language being shown here – me thinks

    Being a design junkie who won’t go to design rehab no no no, I agree on the international language being spoken. Love your on-line shop BTW–s

  6. Okay, I’ll admit I was wrong when I said plastic flowers are tacky. That has to be the best use of them ever.

    There was a big division among the designers present as to tacky or not. I thought they were great and really really funny.–s

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