The great Seward Johnson
We've been delighted a few times on our eccentric road travels by the chuckle-inducing sculptures of a Mr. Seward Johnson that seem to pop out of nowhere. His 26-foot tall treatment of "Unconditional Surrender," the famous sailor-kissing-a-nurse photo, and a several-stories-tall version of Grant Wood's "American Gothic" made us stop in our tracks in Sarasota, Florida and Chicago, Illinois, respectively. Seward, who inherited a portion of the Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical fortune (oh, that Johnson), has been a prolific sculptor for decades and back in 1992 he used his impressive wealth and talent to purchase the New Jersey State Fairgrounds in Hamilton Township near Trenton and turned it into a beautiful, 42-acre sculpture park and museum. You'll see lots of his whimsical works, both on a huge scale and more real-life proportioned, some of every day people and others famous 2-D art masterpieces come to 3-D sculptural life. The park isn't just a vanity piece, though, as other talented sculptors' works are also exhibited among the lushly landscaped grounds. It's a real hoot to sit on a shady bench and watch real people mixing with the art...sometimes it's hard to figure out who is more life-like. And all this beauty and pleasantry is just outside Trenton, which, while very nice, is not exactly a place known for either its beauty or pleasantry. Art establishment snobs pooh-pooh Johnson for being kitschy and copyright-holders may sue him for infringement, but we're not here to judge. Maybe we don't know art, but we know what we like and we love Seward Johnson and his Grounds for Sculpture. He's got whimsical-art-in-a-lovely-location-for-the-masses-to-see down to a, well, fine art.