Monday, June 15, 2015

Day Trip to GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE'S New Exhibitions: Review By Polly Guerin

Artist Jae Ko and detail from "Force of Nature" 
Why go to New Jersey to immerse yourself in Art? That question deserves a positive answer because Seward Johnson's Grounds for Sculpture (GFS) sprawls across 42 magnificently landscaped acres in the heart of central New Jersey. It's a magical place, a perfect day trip, where art and nature provide the parkland setting for a constantly evolving collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures, classical studies as well as the new and monumental work of emerging artist's like Jae Ko, Karl Stirner, Jonas Stirner, Lauren Clay, and Robert Lobe.
  You are greeted at the GFS entrance gate where several people in a lifelike sculpture wave a "Welcome"  banner "Thought You'd Never Get Here!" and one of the revelers seemingly is blowing a bugle to alert your arrival. Then too, other familiar lifelike figures dot the landscape, a stationery postman, a worker cleaning art gallery windows, a man reading the newspaper, a couple embracing and three young men propped up against a wall play dice, all seem magically engaged in every day activities, but the sighting of live peacocks strutting leisurely throughout the grounds adds  pure enchantment to the setting.
   JAE KO. But, the real drama is in the East Gallery on the first floor of the Domestic Arts Building where you can view selections from Washington, DC-based artist Jae Ko. Her colossal commissioned installation, Force of Nature, incorporates 20,000 pounds of recycled Kraft paper. She drew her inspiration from topographic and geologic forms to create a monumental , layered paper relief sculpture that spans over 80 linear feet transforming the East Gallery into the viewer's own interpretation.  As for me, I thought that the work looked like a progression of gigantic waves from a sea of my own imagination. Then, too, other viewers may see differently. As one person commented, "It looks like icebergs!"  That is what is so wonderful about art...the viewer's point of view can be given on several degrees of interpretation. The colossal installation using huge rolls of paper, transforms this common medium normally reserved for shipping and packing into a work of fluid abstraction and monumental beauty.
Karl Stirner, Untitled 1957
  KARL and JONAS STIRNER This father and son's powerful steel sculptures command your attention in the Museum Building. Throughout the new installations, here and elsewhere, Chief curator and Artistic Director, Tom Moran's lively and informative discussion provided clarity and comprehension to appreciate these unique works of art.  Of Karl Stirner's, Decades in Steel exhibition Moran said, "Karl Stirner stands alone in the creation of formidable body of work that is unreplicated by anyone else." Jonas Stirner follows that creative tradition of welding and manipulating found steel into powerful yet whimsical and thought- provoking sculptures.
   LAUREN CLAY's artistic intent sets the stage for Drishti, a Sanskrit word from yoga. She works primarily in paper and her new body of work consists of large paper sculptures along with mural-sized prints of her vibrantly colored hand-matched paper. Drishti, refers to the direction of one's gaze during  meditation. The walls are mounted with yards of digitally printed, hand-dyed and hand-marbled wallpaper, which reaches in history to early American decoration..
Lauren Clay's Drishti Wallpaper Creation
 I would be remiss if I did not mention ROBERT LOBE'S richly textured aluminum reliefs made by hammering sheets of aluminum over natural tree and forest forms in a technique adopted from the tradition of repousee. The exhibition features a selection of masterful collaborative works that incorporate the noted paintings of New York-based painter Kathleen Gilje.
Grounds for Sculpture located at 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton, New Jersey 08819. For additional information for time frame of the exhibits, hours and membership and calendar of events visit.:. Or call 609-586-0616. Dining options await he visitor. I especially liked the restaurant with seating outdoors overlooking a pond right off the Visitor's Center. The Park is open year-round.
   Ta Ta Darlings!!! There's so much more to enjoy at GFS...not to be missed;  the life-size Monumentals, Gold Bless America, The Times Square Kiss, French Impressionistic Dancers and the classic, Beyond the Frame vignettes. Fan mail always welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click in the left hand column, the Blog that resonates with your interest on hidden treasures in New York, womendeterminedtosucceed, visonarymen and poetryfromtheheart.

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