This is a guest post written by Elaine Friedman, who many of you lovingly know as ElainePDX on social media.
Marilyn Monroe’s fluttering skirt. Claude Monet’s water lilies. Abraham Lincoln’s top hat. Matisse’s The Dance. Wood’s American Gothic. Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Munch’s The Scream. If you have a mental image of any these famous visuals, and you’re curious what they might have in common, read on!
Back when I lived in Princeton, New Jersey, I always noticed the man who sat reading, quietly, as he ate his sandwich in Palmer Square. Rain or shine, he was there. Then I moved cross country and another man caught my fancy as he strode across Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon.
Once again, rain or shine, he too was there, with his umbrella open and his hand extended. In fact, when some publicity shots were done back in 1993 for a book I wrote on Portland, I shared his umbrella, just as countless other fans have done.
Creations of John Seward Johnson II, these bronze sculptures are typical of Johnson’s efforts to depict ordinary life in sculpture. He installs his pieces where they both belong and can surprise passers-by. His “Double Check” sculpture of a businessman sat for nearly 20 years in Zucotti Park, only to be covered by debris when the Twin Towers came down on September 11, 2001. Indeed, more than a few volunteers who responded to the crisis went to check him, assuming he was a survivor in need of assistance.
When I learned about the Seward Johnson Retrospective Exhibition at Grounds for Sculpture, I had to go. Grounds for Sculpture is located near Princeton in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. It is a most unusual place where paintings jump off the canvas and favorite photographs are transformed into giant sculptures. A gift from Seward Johnson, the large and beautifully landscaped campus also houses many modern pieces, which nicely complement the more exuberant Johnson sculptures.
Here are some of my favorites:
If you find them as fun and enticing as I did, I’ll be sure to look for you peeking over the life-size Monet’s shoulder as he paints a summer outing, or joining Manet’s models as they lunch in the grass. And no looking up Marilyn’s skirt!!
Can you find me?
How about here?
The Seward Johnson Retrospective Exhibit runs through July 1, 2015. I highly recommend a visit.