Thursday, August 21, 2008

Grounds For Exhilaration

Earlier this week we visited Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ just off Route 295 near Princeton.
Grounds for Sculpture occupies 35 beautiful acres which once comprised the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. This beguiling art park was founded in 1992 by J. Seward Johnson and in fact you can find quite a few of Johnson's works among the sculptures. Most of the sculptures on exhibit outdoors are displayed courtesy of The Sculpture Foundation, Inc., a charitable foundation that collects works of art by American and international artists. The Foundation supports Grounds For Sculpture by lending works for exhibit in the park. Sculptures in a variety of styles and media, including bronze, steel, stone, wood, concrete and mixed media are represented. The outdoor exhibition grows by approximately 15 sculptures annually. New additions outdoors are selected to augment indoor exhibitions, to add new artists to the sculpture park, and to work in conjunction with the landscaped environment.
We chose a perfect summer day for our visit.
As one walks through the beautiful grounds and admires the many works of art (there are more than 200 pieces on display) a feeling of restful contemplation stimulates the visitor's imagination. The sculptures and the many varieties of plants and flowers are in such tranquil harmony that the effect is mesmerizing. You can easily spend an entire day here since there are many spots to stop, sit and simply gaze. And you will want to take your time.
Refreshments are available at The Gazebo, The Cafe or at Rat's Restaurant which overlooks sculptures in the park as well as a lily-pond and bridge inspired by the paintings of French Impressionist Claude Monet. We choose Rat's for a relaxing summer lunch.
Why the name Rat`s? In Kenneth Grahame's classic, The Wind In The Willows, one of J. Seward Johnson, Jr.'s favorite books, the character Ratty represented everything a host should be. As founder of Rat's and Grounds For Sculpture, Johnson likens himself to Ratty who threw the best parties with the best wine. Likewise, the two share delightful imaginations and far-reaching dreams. Inside and out Rat's is ornate and whimsical.
Grounds for Sculpture is one of those few places that can honestly be called unique. You will be renewed and awakened by your visit here. Don't miss it!
Photo: Ricardo

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