Sunday, November 8, 2015

An Art Garden in New Jersey!

On a beautiful Indian Summer Day, we took a side trip just north of Trenton to visit a Sculpture Garden.  We didn't know that it would be a wonderful afternoon of surprise, art history, whimsy, magnificent color and just plain fun. Seward Johnson, one of the Johnson & Johnson heirs, took up art and developed what they call "Seward Johnson Center for the Arts," but I call "Center for Fun."

It starts with this welcome scene.  Look closely to see that these are just-larger-than-life statues at the entrance near I 295 in Hamilton, north of Trenton, NJ.

The Garden venue is the former NJ State Fair Grounds; some of the buildings are still there which house cafes and exhibitions.  The world-class gardens would be reason enough to visit, especially in the autumn as we did.  

But hidden among the trees are treasures to be discovered:

And some familiar faces:

Mr. Johnson has taken many Renoir and Manet paintings and rendered them in 3D...some life size and some gigantic.  Enjoy these views favorites:

A DC favorite of ours is "The Awakening" which is now rising out of the sand at the National Harbor.  We found another copy of Johnson's awakening man here, hidden in the meadow of tall grasses:

Nearby was this artist with his palette...or, wait, is he real?

It is fun to find all the works and decide what they are... 

Or why he decided to create them...

Here is John, showing you the size of these chatting women...

And my favorite giants:

But there are normal size surprises...this young Asian girl invites you to read beside her...

And these poker players seem to need a fourth...and there is already a beer there waiting for you!

There are inside galleries, too, with more interactive fun:

The Girl with the Pearl Earring is posing for the artist

The Mona Lisa is guarded by French policemen in her own little room:

And you can actually walk into Vincent Van Gogh's bedroom!

Please visit the Center's website and plan your own trip there soon.

If you go on a Thursday, be sure to stay for the Great American Songbook singalong at the Rats Cafe, located in the garden.  We had a great time, enjoying Happy Hour and singing some old favorites.  Just our luck, this was the only Thursday for a long time that Mr. Johnson did not join the crowd.   We will have to go back again to see more art and do more singing!

I'll leave you with a few more fun sightings:

The Jersey Shore??

This guy is real...