Forever Marilyn is part of the Seward Johnson, The Retrospective exhibit at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, N.J. The 84-year-old New Jersey native was the founder of the Grounds for Sculpture in 1992. More than 150 of his works are on display. The exhibit was scheduled for the summer of this year but it has been extended and will continue until July 2015.
Forever Marilyn, completed in 2011, is part of Johnson’s icon series. Other works in that series, Return Visit, God Bless America and Unconditional Surrender, are shown below.
The Works of Seward Johnson
All of the works shown above are enormous. Forever Marilyn is 26-feet high and weighs 17 tons. Also on display are a number of Johnson’s life-sized sculptures, part of his Celebrating the Familiar Series.
As you walk around the Grounds for Sculpture, these works will sneak up on you. From a distance they look like park visitors, seated on benches or standing beside the road or paths. So many times during my visit I was surprised by a person that was actually a sculpture. What distinguishes Johnson’s work is the vibrant color, not something that is all that common in a sculpture exhibit, and the minute detail. Note the headlines on the newspaper and the spokes and chain on the bicycle.
The Grounds for Sculpture
The attraction here is not just the art, the grounds are also pretty nice. In places it is like hiking in the woods or taking a lakeside stroll. The art is installed in such a way that it almost seems embedded in the grounds, as if it was conceived with this environment in mind.
The Grounds for Sculpture has plaques on many of the pieces inviting visitors to touch. That is true of most of Johnson’s works. Several of his large pieces have been installed on the roads surrounding the museum. Since this is primarily a drab industrial area the sculptures on the side of the road or in front of the buildings are striking. The God Bless America piece shown above sits next to the main road leading to the Grounds.
There is an excellent restaurant on the premises with a full menu and prices that are modest considering the qualify of what they serve. Only downside is the name, Rat’s.