Gardens at the Grounds for Sculpture Park

from the Artsology series The Arts Adventurer

While the sculpture is clearly the main event at Grounds for Sculpture, the landscaping and grounds themselves are quite beautiful in their own right. In this chapter, we explore the beautiful gardens filled with a wide variety of plants in addition to all of the various sculptures.

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The overall park is 42 acres, so there's plenty of open space, as you can see in the pictures below. The stacked boulders below left are titled "Eolith" (1994) by Isaac Witkin, and the sculpture below right is titled "Beast" (2001) by Karen Peterson. The park is really clean and well-maintained, and on the day I was there, it wasn't crowded at all, which made all of the open space feel very luxurious.

large scale sculptures at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ

There's one area which is titled "The Forest of the Subconscious," which included a narrow path through low-hanging branches of different trees and surrounded by even more beautiful plants, some of which you can see below left. But this "Forest of the Subconscious" abruptly ends in a dead end, which puts you face-to-face with something quite unexpected. It’s a piece by Gloria Vanderbilt (yes, the Gloria Vanderbilt of designer jeans fame, but an artist as well), and it's a bit unusual, to say the least - check it out below right. It's titled "Heart's Desire" (2008) and is a mixed media pieces consisting of Plexiglas, mirrors, cellophane paper, clothing, dolls, glitter, and miscellanous found objects.

unusual flowers and plants at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ

large scale sculptures by Gloria Vanderbilt at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ

There was another section of the park where two long rows of red maples were planted in such a way that they form a living wall lining the path. The trunks of these trees were pruned in order to make the lower 6-7 feet of the trees go straight up, almost like the bars of a cage (see below left). One unexpected consequence of this trunk pruning, however, is a series of interesting knots and knobs which almost take on a sculptural life of their own, as you can see below right.

narrow tree-lined path at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ

pruned trees with abstract art-like stubs at Grounds for Sculpture

In a few places scattered throughout the park, there are towers or hills that allow you to climb up and get a bigger overview. Here’s a shot from one such tower, which helps give a visual idea of how the grounds are laid out from above. Look closely at this picture, below left: what's that in the water? From this angle, it looks like a giant bunny rabbit with those two ears sticking up. But as you can see when viewed from the ground closer to the water, it's not a rabbit, it's an abstract sculpture titled "Carmelita," (2008) by Autin Wright, and it seems part floral, part serpentine. The piece is made of fiberglass and has an interior structure with LED lighting which lights up at night ... I only saw it during the day, but can imagine it's pretty amazing at night as it glows and seems to come to life.

Sculpture titled Carmelita by Autin Wright at Grounds for Sculpture

As I mentioned above, the grounds here are kept immaculate, they do a really good job of keeping everything clean and properly groomed ... however, I did discover one little area that got away from them, and I’ll give you a look at that next in Chapter 4.

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