I had driven by the signs on 295 showing where to exit for this place called Grounds For Sculpture.But what really caught my eye was the two massive bronze heads (one blue and the other red) off to the right side of the of 295 that look almost like something Picasso would’ve done.
I used google to find out what this place was. And learned that it was a 42-acre sculpture park! First thing I thought was, wow, that’s a lot of walking so I better wear some tennis shoes.
Of course the day I decided to go, because I had the time, I wore sandals. They were super cute, but not comfortable. Nevertheless I decided I’d suck it up and deal with it. It’s art AND and it’s outdoors! How perfect is that!
After I exited 295, I was immediately captivated by all the huge, larger than life sculpture that seem to be strewn about alongside the road as I made my way to the park. The 1st one was a giant tooth that looked like it was the size of a small house. (Seemed like it would make a fun playhouse for kids or dentist’s offices).
Thought my mind might be playing tricks on me. For some reason, I started blinking my eyes trying to refocus and process what I was seeing. But there were more. Didn’t matter how many times I blinked, looked away and looked back, they were all still there. There were so many of these sculptures that I can’t even remember them individually (except for the tooth), but I do remember that some were exaggeratedly large (I felt Buddy the Elf and wanted to exclaim these things are ginormous! But I didn’t. Loudly that is.), while others were true to scale. The life size ones were typically posed in some way that made them look uncannily real, while others were posed and facing the sculptures admiring them.
The lines between reality and fantasy were starting to blur. I started to feel like I was Alice I was going down the rabbit hole. (I’m sure I’m not the 1st person to feel like this, nor will I be the last.)
I followed the signs to the welcome center and paid the $18 for admission (for the whole day), although it did give me pause since I’m on a tight budget, but this was already turning in to an extraordinary experience that I didn’t want to miss!
I toured the indoor exhibits 1st, which are all creations of the artist, visionary Seward Johnson, who is the founder of this place (and also an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune).
This part included the most moving 2 pieces there, which was the 9/11 tribute. I was brought to tears just viewing it, and then reading the back story and watching some video clips next to it, I was brought to tears (and wished I had a tissue with me).
Seeing those two pieces brought me back to reality real quick, but that didn’t last for long.
I enjoyed seeing the popular Forever Marilyn statue (of her famous pose where she’s trying to hold down her dress). I used to be a huge Marilyn fan back in my twenties (and still have a large print of her iconic pose)so that was kind of neat to see.
But what took my breath away was “Welcome Home”, which was Johnson’s 3D interpretation of Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” that was vibrant and whimsical. Even the brush strokes are 3D and there is an actual chair, table and bed for you to touch and sit on! It’s literally a bedroom! I could totally take a nap in that bed if they’d let me! I did sit on it through, because that is ok to do (next time I’ll have to ask someone to take a pic for me).
Once I stepped outside to begin exploring, I started to feel like Alice did in Alice in Wonderland, that is if she were real (but reality is a matter of loose interpretation at this place so I think that’s an irrelevant point).
There were so many sculptures scattered about the 42-acres and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see them all in one day, so I picked something on the map that seemed the most interesting, which was Monet’s Bridge, and started taking the path (as much as I could tell) and head in that direction. Kind of felt like it was a treasure map and I was going on a quest.
I wandered for a bit, because I got lost (no surprise there) and enjoyed all of the lush greenery and flowers that fill this park with an enormity of fragrant, natural beauty. In stark contrast to all of this softness and delicacy are the hard, bronze statues that are scattered about. Some are colorful. Some are not. Some are true to life, while others aren’t.
One of my favorite discoveries was a 3D version of Edward Munch’s “Scream” that covered an outside wall on this one exhibit.
At some point I stopped for a snack. I couldn’t help but think that I might grow big like Alice did when I took my first bite of popcorn. But I did not.
Eventually I did find the area surrounding Monet’s Bridge and was blown away by how beautiful it was. By this time I was hot and tired and ready to head back.
After getting lost a few times, I returned to the indoor exhibit to take a break and just soak in those exhibits one more time, so I sat down on a couch. I must have been really still because I look up and this couple is staring at me. They jump a little and gasp when I look up and say, “Oh, you’re real!” We all laughed. They looked back a few more times, so I got up and took that as my cue to leave!