History

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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 accessible and 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 is now exhibiting over 270 works, including sculptures by renowned artists Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, and New Jersey sculptor George Segal. Some of the works 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 the 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.

2012

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  • The East Gallery, a new 7,500 square foot indoor exhibition and performing art space in the Seward Johnson Center for the Arts, opened to the public. The inaugural exhibition was Canutopia by artist Ming Fay.
  • Spring/Summer 2012 exhibitions included inflated sculptures by artist Sharon Engelstein, found object work by Willie Cole, and natural inspired sculpture by Marilyn Keating.
  • Fall/Winter 2012 exhibitions showcased figurative work by Robert Taplin and the annual International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement Awards.
  • 2012 featured a six-month artist-in-residence project with artist Mark Parsons. Parsons worked with community volunteers to create large-scale maps, which were then used as the blueprint for the final sculpture. Workshops and lectures by Parsons were part of the artist-in-residence project.

2011

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  • The Meadow, a new 7-acre outdoor gallery opened as rotating exhibition space. The inaugural show was Aerial Roots by Steve Tobin.
  • The Winter 2011 exhibition featured the massive wood sculptures of Emilie Benes Brzezinski.
  • Spring/Summer 2011 exhibitions included wood and metal sculptures by James Surls and iconic stone works by Daniel Henderson.
  • Fall/Winter 2011 exhibitions featured maquettes by Michael Dunbar, the annual International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement Awards, and a group show of 42 cast and forged iron works by regional sculptures.
  • December 2011-February 2012 was the first year of Winter Wonders, a series of programs aimed to attract visitors to the park during the winter months. Concerts, workshops, demonstrations and special lighting features in the park were scheduled using the winter theme.

2010

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  • 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 10/10/10. As part of this day-long celebration, founder Seward Johnson gave a founder's lecture as the culminating event.
  • The Education Gallery, a venue for showing community exhibitions, opened with the annual Focus on Sculpture exhibition. This gallery also held the first annual Members' Musings exhibition, featuring artwork by members of Grounds For Sculpture. Another first for this year were moonlight tours.
  • Spring/Summer 2010 exhibitions included metal and cast bronze sculptures by Deborah Butterfield and carved wooden saints by Felix, Joseph, and Krissa Lopez.
  • Fall/Winter 2010 exhibition featured the annual Focus on Sculpture exhibition and the glass work of artist Flo Perkins. This year featured an Artist-in-Residence project by found-object artist, Eric Schultz.

2009

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  • Spring/Summer 2009 exhibition features granite sculptures by artist Jesús Morolés, recipient of the prestigious Award in the Visual Arts Fellowship, 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

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  • Spring/Summer 2008 featured ceramic work by artists Peter Callas, Paul Chaleff, Robert T. Cooke, Takao Okazaki, Rudolph Serra, Toshiko Takaezu and Peter Voulkous.
  • Fall/Winter 2008 exhibitions featured Michael Naranjo and Allan Houser.

2007

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  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • Fall/Winter Season features “Enclosures” and “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.” Individual artist on view Herk Van Tongeren.
  • 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.”

2006

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  • 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.
  • Grounds For Sculpture welcomes five new trustees to its representative public board.
  • Spring/Summer Season showcases classic kinetic sculpture by George Rickey as well as current work by thirteen members of the international Kinetic Art Organization.
  • Fall/Winter Season highlights acclaimed international sculptor Manuel Neri’s figural reliefs and “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.”
  • 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.

2005

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  • Grounds For Sculpture creates five-year Strategic Plan for Growth.
  • Spring/Summer Season presents four individual sculptor exhibitions by Itzik Benshalom, David Hostetler, John Martini and resident artist Patrick Dougherty.
  • Fall/Winter Season features metal artist Hans Van de Bovenkamp and two group shows by the Hungarian Sculptors Society and award-winning student sculptors.
  • 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.

2004

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  • Spring/Summer Season features the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group, a membership organization dedicated to promoting cultural vitality and artistic diversity.
  • Fall/Winter Season showcases individual artists Patrick Dougherty and Andrew Rogers as well as “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.”
  • 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

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  • 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.
  • Summer Season showcases the International Sculpture Center, a nonprofit organization founded in 1960 to advance the creation and understanding of sculpture.
  • 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.
  • New additions outdoors include “Space of Stone” by Magdalena Abakanowicz, an installation commissioned specifically for its current location at Grounds For Sculpture.

2002

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  • 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.
  • Summer Season continues the tradition to introduce works from sculptors’ professional organizations each summer by showcasing the Tri-State Sculptors’ Guild.
  • Fall/Winter Season presents a dramatic glass exhibition by acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly as well as “Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards.”
  • 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

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  • Spring Season showcases figurative sculpture through one-person exhibits by artists William King (“Tennis, Anyone?”) and Leonda Finke (“Sculpture”).
  • Summer Season presents works by two professional artist organizations, the National Association of Women Artists and the Sculptors Association of New Jersey.
  • 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.
  • New additions outdoors feature twenty-two new works including three glass and metal structures by artist Brower Hatcher (“Fan,” “Tower” and “Wave”).

2000

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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.”
  • New additions outdoors bring eighteen new works to the evolving outdoor collection including “Henry Moore in a Sheep Meadow” by Red Grooms.

1999

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  • Water Garden opens next to the Domestic Arts Building to provide an intimate, serene setting for sculptures among a variety of water features.
  • Spring Season showcases “Premonitions in Retrospect,” a major forty-sculpture survey exhibition of work by metal sculptor Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas.
  • Summer Season features a group exhibit by members of the Sculptors Guild, an artist-run organization of professional sculptors of outstanding ability and achievement.
  • 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.
  • New additions outdoors augment the outdoor collection with an unprecedented thirty-one new artworks including George Segal’s famous “Depression Bread Line.”

1998

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  • Spring Season features metal sculptor Michael Steiner, new work by artists John Newman and Robert Ressler including his first large-scale cast bronze sculpture.
  • Summer Season presents a group exhibition of seventy-five works by more than fifty artists of the membership organization Philadelphia Sculptors.
  • Fall/Winter Season showcases “Glass: A Group Exhibition” featuring artists Robert Dane, Stephen Knapp, Ron Mehlman, Mary Shaffer and Joy Wulke.
  • 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

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  • Domestic Arts Building, the first exhibit building with public amenities (café and museum shop) opens to Grounds For Sculpture visitors.
  • 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.
  • Summer Season highlights large-scale works by Abakanowicz, Benazzi, Caro, Ginnever, Hatcher, Liberman, Meadmore and Sugarman. Wendy Lehman and Robert Lobe also on view.
  • Fall/Winter Season showcases “Stone: A Group Exhibition” featuring artists Paul Bloch, Michael Braden, Susan Crowder , Horace Farlowe, Yongjin Han and Jill Sablosky.
  • New additions outdoors present sixteen new works including site–specific sculpture by Marisol (“General Bronze”) and New Jersey artist Isaac Witkin (“Garden State”).

1996

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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • New additions outdoors feature nine new works including Bruce Beasley’s large-scale metal sculpture “Dorion,” sited dramatically over a reflecting pool.

1995

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  • Opening hours are expanded to include Sundays.
  • Gazebo outdoor café opens.
  • 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.
  • Fall/Winter Season showcases “Three Sculptors and Their Drawings” with works on exhibit by Lawrence Lane, Niki Ketchman and John Monti.

1994

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  • 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.
  • 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.

1993

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  • Museum Building, the first building with indoor exhibition space, opens. Opening hours are established for Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Spring/Summer Season showcases sixty sculptures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anthony Caro, Michele Oka Doner, William King, Tom Otterness and others.
  • Fall/Winter Season highlights works completed in the past decade including “Street Crossing” by George Segal and “Leucantha” by Philip Grausman.

1992

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  • Sculpture garden open by appointment only.
  • 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.

1989

  • Construction begins on Grounds For Sculpture site.

1988

  • Grounds For Sculpture, originally a project of the Atlantic Foundation, receives preliminary site plan approval.

1984

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  • The Atlantic Foundation purchases old Fairgrounds property adjacent to the Johnson Atelier.

 

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