Art finds a home in nature at Grounds For Sculpture

By CHRISTINE BARCIA
Staff Writer

 A patron takes a solitary stroll through the Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton Township, an oasis of nature and art.  STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR A patron takes a solitary stroll through the Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton Township, an oasis of nature and art. STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR An escape from everyday life can be found in the sculpture garden and arboretum of Grounds For Sculpture.

“I know it sounds cliché, but we are an ‘oasis,’ ” said Tom Moran, chief curator and artistic director at Grounds for Sculpture (GFS). Located in Hamilton Township, which is just outside of Trenton, the 42-acre park features more than 270 contemporary sculptures by renowned and emerging artists.

“You can wander down paths surrounded by delicate weeping willows, vibrant orchards and flowering shrubs as you discover the work of both renowned and talented emerging contemporary sculptors,” said Carolynn McCormack, marketing coordinator at GFS. The freeform layout, she said, “evokes quiet contemplation, surprise and delight.” “Grounds For Sculpture, studded with koi ponds, bamboo groves, hidden hedge rooms and strolling peacocks, offers a surprise around every corner,” McCormack said.

Artwork in nature is the general theme, Moran said.

The not-for-profit sculpture park, which is open all year, features displays of sculptures to reflect “cohesion, flow and a good fit,” Moran said.

“The sculptures are deliberately placed in the landscape, and exhibits are thought through and maintained to a high degree,” Moran said.

In addition to the artistic experience of Grounds For Sculpture, visitors to the attraction are offered a range of dining options. Rat’s Restaurant, open for lunch, dinner and brunch, features French cuisine in an atmosphere inspired by Claude Monet’s Giverny. For lighter fare, The Peacock Café serves sandwiches, salads and pizza. Van Gogh Café’s French-inspired street food includes crepes, baguettes sandwiches and artisanal cheeses. The Gazebo is an outdoor spot to stop and enjoy ice cream, snacks and beverages.

 PHOTOS BY STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR PHOTOS BY STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER ERIC SUCAR In 1984, J. Seward Johnson, sculptor and philanthropist, envisioned a public sculpture garden and museum in Hamilton. His desire was to make contemporary sculpture accessible and offer people from all backgrounds the opportunity to become comfortable with contemporary art, according to the GFS website.

Construction on the sculpture park began in 1989 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds, and Grounds For Sculpture opened to the general public in 1992.

In 2014 GFS welcomed a record-breaking 232,000 guests, up from 165,000 the previous year, McCormack said. So far this year, 106,000 guests have visited the attraction.

Fall events at GFS will offer a variety of options for visitors.

Atelier tour and dinner at Rat’s Restaurant will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 22 at The Seward Johnson Atelier. It includes a tour of The Seward Johnson Atelier and the Digital Atelier.

Tours begin with refreshments and are led by expert staff from both The Seward Johnson Atelier and the Digital Atelier. After the tour, a three-course dinner at Rat’s Restaurant will take place at 7:30 p.m. Reservations are required. The cost is $79 for members and $89 for nonmembers.

Epicurean Palette, a food and wine event, will take place from 1-4 p.m. on Sept. 27. It will feature samplings of cuisine from the area’s chefs. This event includes the opportunity for visitors to experience the beer garden and to bid on travel packages, event tickets, jewelry, and art during the silent auction. Tickets are $125 for members and $175 for nonmembers.

Three national chapters of the International Sculpture Center — Chicago Sculpture International, Texas Sculpture Group and Pacific Rim Sculptors Group — will be featured in a first-ever indoor sculpture display starting on Oct. 25, according to Moran. Eighteen artists will be featured in “Disruption,” which will depict forces in the world that affect our daily lives.

Grounds For Sculpture is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 609-586-0616 or visit info@groundsforsculpture.org.