History of Grounds For Sculpture
In 1984, J. Seward Johnson, sculptor and philanthropist, envisioned a public sculpture garden and museum in Hamilton, NJ. His desire was to make contemporary sculpture as an art form more accessible and to offer people from all backgrounds the opportunity to become comfortable with contemporary art. Grounds For Sculpture was conceived as a place where audiences could experience sculpture in a familiar, accessible, and informal setting.
Construction on the sculpture park began in 1989 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds; Grounds For Sculpture opened to the general public in 1992. Since its inception, the park has built a collection of over 240 works, including sculptures by renowned artists Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, and New Jersey sculptor George Segal. Some of the works in the collection were commissioned specifically for the sculpture park, such as Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Space of Stone and New Jersey artist Isaac Witkin’s Garden State. Work on the park and sculpture acquisitions were financed by public tax-exempt bonds and private foundations associated with founder J. Seward Johnson.
Since 2000, Grounds For Sculpture is a public not-for-profit corporation with a Board of Trustees overseeing the successful operation of New Jersey’s foremost sculpture park and museum. As a not-for-profit and public institution, Grounds For Sculpture relies on the support of visitors, art patrons, donations and grants to offer its rich programs and activities each year.
Virginia Oberlin Steel, former Director of the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts, joins the staff as the Curator of Exhibitions at Grounds For Sculpture.
The Winter 2010 exhibition featured the massive wood sculptures of Emilie Benes Brzezinski. Spring/Summer 2011 exhibtions included wood and metal sculptures by James Surls and iconic stone works by Daniel Henderson.
2010 was the 10th anniversary of Grounds For Sculpture becoming a public non-profit organization. To celebrate, special giveaways took place on the 10th of every month, 10th Anniversary Workshops highlighted 10 artists, and the Art Ten Ways event was held on 10/10/2010. As part of this day-long celebration, founder Seward Johnson gave a founder's lecture as the culminating event.
The Education Gallery held the first annual Members' Musings exhibition, featuring artwork by members of Grounds For Sculpture. Another first for this year was the monthly moonlight tours, which continue to be extremely popular.
The Winter 2010 exhibition featured the annual Focus on Sculpture exhibition and the glass work of artist Flo Perkins. Spring/Summer 2010 exhibitions included metal and cast bronze sculptures by Deborah Butterfield and carved wooden saints by Felix, Joseph, and Krissa Lopez. This year featured an Artist-in-Residence project by found-object artist, Eric Schultz.
Granite sculptures by artist Jesús Morolés, recipient of the prestigious Award in the Visual Arts Fellowship, was featured in the Spring/Summer 2009 exhibition along with wood sculpture by Steven Madsen, recipient of a Craftsman's Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Fall/Winter 2009 exhibitions featured metal sculptures by Albert Paley, ceramics by Jacobo de la Serna, and the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture exhibition.
|2008||Ellen J. Landis, formerly Curator of Art and Head of the Art Division at the Albuquerque Museum, joins the organization as Grounds For Sculpture’s new Curator.|
|2007||Fall/Winter Season features “Enclosures” and “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.” Individual artist on view Herk Van Tongeren.|
Spring/Summer Season presents a retrospective of glass sculptor Richard Jolley and a group exhibit of seven artists whose work draws upon the world of “domestic arts.”
New York artist Steven Siegel is in residence to create three outdoor sculptural installations using indigenous post-consumer materials (recyclables).
New additions outdoors present fourteen new works including the whimsical “Z-DNA” by Tom Otterness and Itzik Benshalom’s romantic piece “First Love.”
Grounds For Sculpture eliminates over $15 million debt incurred during the first years of its existence as a nonprofit organization and creates a reserve fund.
|2006||Fall/Winter Season highlights acclaimed international sculptor Manuel Neri’s figural reliefs and “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.” |
Spring/Summer Season showcases classic kinetic sculpture by George Rickey as well as current work by thirteen members of the international Kinetic Art Organization.
New additions outdoors enhance the evolving outdoor collection by sixteen new works including sculpture by Kiki Smith, John Martini, James Rosati and Hans Van de Bovenkamp.
Grounds For Sculpture welcomes five new trustees to its representative public board.
J. Seward Johnson, founder, steps down from the board and management of Grounds For Sculpture in order to devote more time to his charitable and artistic work.
|2005||Fall/Winter Season features metal artist Hans Van de Bovenkamp and two group shows by the Hungarian Sculptors Society and award-winning student sculptors.|
Spring/Summer Season presents four individual sculptor exhibitions by Itzik Benshalom, David Hostetler, John Martini and resident artist Patrick Dougherty.
Patrick Dougherty works with volunteers to create an indoor exhibition of five site-specific sculptures by weaving tree saplings into large organic constructions. New additions outdoors showcase fourteen works by eleven artists including Harriet FeBland, Carole A. Feuerman, Peter Voulkos and Isaac Witkin.
Grounds For Sculpture creates five-year Strategic Plan for Growth.
|2004||Fall/Winter Season showcases individual artists Patrick Dougherty and Andrew Rogers as well as “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.” |
Spring/Summer Season features the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group, a membership organization dedicated to promoting cultural vitality and artistic diversity.
New additions outdoors bring sixteen new artworks to Grounds For Sculpture including Karen Petersen’s “Beast” and Peter Woytuk’s “Bulls” from the previous exhibition season.
|2003||Fall/Winter Season presents “Amazing Animal Exposition” with works by Botero, Butterfield, Grausman, Otterness, Petersen and Woytuk as well as sculpture by award-winning students. |
Summer Season showcases the International Sculpture Center, a nonprofit organization founded in 1960 to advance the creation and understanding of sculpture.
Spring Season features an extended viewing of Dale Chihuly’s exhibition due to its popularity alongside one-person shows by Zigi Ben-Haim and Illya Kagan.
New additions outdoors include “Space of Stone” by Magdalena Abakanowicz, an installation commissioned specifically for its current location at Grounds For Sculpture.
|2002||Fall/Winter Season presents a dramatic glass exhibition by acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly as well as “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.”|
Summer Season continues the tradition to introduce works from sculptors’ professional organizations each summer by showcasing the Tri-State Sculptors’ Guild.
Spring Season features a major group exhibition of artists who held one-person shows at Grounds For Sculpture in the past to celebrate the park’s tenth anniversary.
New additions outdoors enhance the evolving outdoor collection with twenty-two sculptures including Martha Pettigrew’s “Gossip” and J. Seward Johnson’s “Were You Invited?”
|2001||Fall/Winter Season displays a one-person show by Jeffrey Maron as well as two group exhibits featuring artists from the International Sculpture Center and award-winning student sculptors.|
Summer Season presents works by two professional artist organizations, the National Association of Women Artists and the Sculptors Association of New Jersey.
Spring Season showcases figurative sculpture through one-person exhibits by artists William King (“Tennis, Anyone?”) and Leonda Finke (“Sculpture”).
New additions outdoors feature twenty-two new works including three glass and metal structures by artist Brower Hatcher (“Fan,” “Tower” and “Wave”).
|2000||Fall/Winter Season displays James Dinerstein’s “New Sculpture” and two group shows: “Elements” and the first annual “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.”|
Summer Season features works in a variety of media by fifty-eight members of the Washington Sculptors Group, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit art organization.
Spring Season presents the first solo exhibition by sculptor Red Grooms as well as two one-person shows by artists Bill Barrett and Andrzej Pitynski.
New additions outdoors bring eighteen new works to the evolving outdoor collection including “Henry Moore in a Sheep Meadow” by Red Grooms.
Grounds For Sculpture is incorporated as a public 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
Rat’s Restaurant, Grounds For Sculpture’s fine dining destination inspired by Claude Monet’s paintings, opens as part of sculptor J. Seward Johnson’s Impressionist series.
|1999||Fall/Winter Season presents a major retrospective of Beverly Pepper’s large abstract sculptures in iron, steel, bronze and stone. Over fifty works on view.|
Summer Season features a group exhibit by members of the Sculptors Guild, an artist-run organization of professional sculptors of outstanding ability and achievement.
Spring Season showcases “Premonitions in Retrospect,” a major forty-sculpture survey exhibition of work by metal sculptor Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas.
New additions outdoors augment the outdoor collection with an unprecedented thirty-one new artworks including George Segal’s famous “Depression Bread Line.”
Water Garden opens next to the Domestic Arts Building to provide an intimate, serene setting for sculptures among a variety of water features.
|1998||Fall/Winter Season showcases “Glass: A Group Exhibition” featuring artists Robert Dane, Stephen Knapp, Ron Mehlman, Mary Shaffer and Joy Wulke.|
Summer Season presents a group exhibition of seventy-five works by more than fifty artists of the membership organization Philadelphia Sculptors.
Spring Season features metal sculptor Michael Steiner, new work by artists John Newman and Robert Ressler including his first large-scale cast bronze sculpture.
New additions outdoors bring thirty-four new works to Grounds For Sculpture including Carlos Dorrien’s popular sculpture sited on a reflecting pool (“Nine Muses“).
|1997||Fall/Winter Season showcases “Stone: A Group Exhibition” featuring artists Paul Bloch, Michael Braden, Susan Crowder , Horace Farlowe, Yongjin Han and Jill Sablosky. |
Summer Season highlights large-scale works by Abakanowicz, Benazzi, Caro, Ginnever, Hatcher, Liberman, Meadmore and Sugarman. Wendy Lehman and Robert Lobe also on view.
Spring Season presents a one-person show featuring twenty portrait-like sculptures by Marisol and a group exhibit of artists Robert Murray and Jay Wholley.
New additions outdoors present sixteen new works including site–specific sculpture by Marisol (“General Bronze”) and New Jersey artist Isaac Witkin (“Garden State”).
Domestic Arts Building, the first exhibit building with public amenities (café and museum shop) opens to Grounds For Sculpture visitors.
|1996||Fall/Winter Season highlights the work of four artists working in mixed media, Don Bonham, Nancy Cohen, Don Porcaro and Carol Rosen. Artists lecture on October 26, 1996.|
Summer Season presents the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz in a one-person show and a catalogue showcasing an overview of various themes of the artist’s career.
Spring Season features “Isaac Witkin: The Past Decade” with Witkin’s large-scale bronze sculptures on view for the first time. Witkin gives an artist lecture on May 11, 1996.
New additions outdoors feature nine new works including Bruce Beasley’s large-scale metal sculpture “Dorion,” sited dramatically over a reflecting pool.
|1995||Fall/Winter Season showcases “Three Sculptors and Their Drawings” with works on exhibit by Lawrence Lane, Niki Ketchman and John Monti.|
Spring/Summer Season features large-scale works by James Dinerstein, Jesse Moore and Yuyu Yang as well as sculpture from the Philip and Muriel Berman Collection.
New additions outdoors by David Hayes, Toshiku Takaezu and Marsha Pels.
Gazebo outdoor café opens.
Opening hours are expanded to include Sundays.
|1994||Fall/Winter Season group show entitled “The Figure” highlights the work of sculptors Steve Daly, Mary Frank, Viola Frey, Marion Held, Richard Jolley and Jonathan Shawn. |
Spring/Summer Season explores the diversity of style and subject matter in twentieth-century sculpture through a selection of works on loan from the New Jersey State Museum.
|1993||Fall/Winter Season highlights works completed in the past decade including “Street Crossing” by George Segal and “Leucantha” by Philip Grausman.|
Spring/Summer Season showcases sixty sculptures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anthony Caro, Michele Oka Doner, William King, Tom Otterness and others.
Museum Building, the first building with indoor exhibition space, opens. Opening hours are established for Fridays and Saturdays.
|1992||Grounds For Sculpture’s inaugural outdoor exhibition features work by artists Willard Boepple, Muriel Castanis, Michele Oka Doner, Mel Edwards, Arthur Gibbons, William King, Roger Mack, Beverly Pepper, Joel Perlman, Art Schade, George Segal, Joel Shapiro and Herk Van Tongeren.|
Sculpture garden open by appointment only.