Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grounds for Sculpture - Ada's Outing - Poem: My Tour of the Grounds for Sculpture

I took 71 photos. I just loved everything my eyes saw!

Thanks to Ada and Rich - the fabulous Fleishers!

We began our self-guided tour thru the marble gates. We came in two cars - I went with Ellen in the artist's jacket here.

Ellen is the widow of the former VP for the Transportation Workers Union. Good man. They traveled a lot and had a great life before his long debilitating illness. Unfortunately, we can't choose the way we wanna die.

Do not be afraid. These giant lotus blossoms are not the same as the seed pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I watched this sci-fi classic for the first time on WEWS in Cleveland.

I like the symmetry.

Scene from MacBeth....bubble bubble toil and trouble. See the cauldron in the back? It was spritzing cold water. The spritz was found in many places on the grounds.

Sculpture over untroubled waters.

The late George Segal's Waiting in the Breadline during the Depression.

The Nine Muses reminded me of the WW2 sculpture in DC. Nice use of water and stone.

I believe this is by the famous female artist Marisol. I learned about many artists when I worked for Art Matters.

You're allowed to touch some of the artworks - "with care and respect." This one felt warm in the sun and cold in the shade. That's b/c it's made with stone (I think).

Nothing like hearing a play at the Acropolis. Save me a seat for the newest play by Euripides.

You had to keep your eyes open for the many little paths that led to exciting things like this mock-sauna that smelled of cedar. Here's a view of the trees thru the roof.

Our first view of the Lake. Half the lake is shared by private houses who have boats in docks.

IN THE PAST: The groundskeeper John, whom we shall meet shortly, told me that these grounds used to be a race track! He lives nearby and still remembers the roar of the race cars zooming around the track.

It was also the home of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds.

J. Seward Johnson, b. 1930, bought 35 acres of land and founded the Sculpture Garden in 1992. He was gonna make a lake and when the digging began, a natural spring came bubbling up, making the job easier. It's stocked with fish.

 Here's Johnson with his lifelike sculptures. He comes from the Johnson and Johnson pharmaceutical family, founded by his dad.

His dad was married to actress Diana Dill. The actor Michael Douglas is the child of Diana Dill and Kirk Douglas, which makes Johnson and Michael Douglas first cousins.

Gee, I never thot I'd have Michael Douglas on my blog.

Sculpture is my favorite art form. My favorite BF who dumped me was the late sculptor Chris Ray. Clearly, he died from heartbreak.

Here's his Wissahickon Gate on Chestnut Street in Philly.


John the groundskeeper told us that artists "lease" space on the grounds if they are not part of the permanent exhibition. Many of the sculptures are moved around.

I really appreciated Johnson's genius today. This is a Manet painting "Lunch on the Grass" which caused a sensation back in the day. Why? Because the woman on the right was thought to be an escaped con in her striped shirt. Hint: She had a helluva time getting up off the ground.

Oh! Excuse us!

If you double-click to enlarge, you can see this faux boat. "Trompe l'oeil" is the term for artwork that fools your eye. No thanks to M. Francis Wormander at Shaker Heights High, where I was in his class. He sent a woman home for wearing culottes to school. C'mon, give the woman a break.

Trees are just as much onstage as the artwork. As I said to Ada and Rich, if you have enuf money, like Johnson has, you can hire the top architects and landscapers in the world and create a world-class sculpture grounds.

Hello darling!

This was made from discs of cut glass.

Love the composition....the tangle of branches and the giraffes and lifesize bird.

Here's John the groundskeeper. He said Johnson walks around the grounds in his cowboy hat and is just a regular guy. John has two children, one an IT fellow who goes all over the world. He also has a former GF who has bipolar d/o. He's very fond of her but.....

This reminds me of a funeral pyre. Could it be b/c I watched Das Rheingold last nite on PBS? It's the first of four operas comprising the The Ring of the Nibelung playing at the Met.

My daughter Sarah wants to take me to the opera, but I can't imagine sitting in one place w/o moving, until they provide me w a stationery bike, which I rode for 20 minutes while watching Evan Owens as Albrecht curse the man who stole the ring.

Even the debris in the wheel barrow is piled up neatly.

There was a cluster of tall bamboo and we asked how they keep it from spreading. Deep underground walls.

Here's the beautiful but pesky bamboo.

Sure enough, there was a three-story house inside the bamboo grove, which we faithfully clumb up.

It was part of a Japanese Garden.

 Seward Johnson designed this upscale restaurant "Rat's" to resemble the inside of one of Claude Monet's paintings. (All info from Net.) Outside the restaurant is "Giverny," Claude's famous garden. When the Fleishers went to see it, they had to wait in a long line.

This is one of the most famous scenes at Grounds for Sculpture. Monet's "Lunch," I believe.

Loads of people were gathered around to see it.

This is Monet's "Ada," brought to life by Seward Johnson.

Had enough, sir? Hope you have a designated driver.

More whimsy by the now-eighty-three year-old Johnson. "Employees' Shower Room," it's called.

Wonder what kind of shampoo she uses.

Don't mind if I do. It's hot walking in the sun.

Outdoor dining at Rat's. Restaurant named after Ratty, a favorite character of Johnson's in The Wind in the Willows.

Ever read that? I did not but do intend to.

I fell in love with these purple berries. What a shade! Everything is by design. Very intelligent design.

This man looks like a tyrant.

The Domestic Arts Bldg was once part of the Fairground. Johnson savors and saves the past.

Beautiful Ann Gaugler, RN, comes from a long line of nurses. One of her fave jobs, she told us, was working at a woman's correctional facility. When the woman would return, they would hug the inmates they knew: So happy to see you.

Irish Jim has a master's in counseling and enjoys helping people. He's waiting for his pepparoni pizza. He was the only person who didn't have room for dessert. Lucky Jim! (This is also the name of the first novel by Kingsley Amis.)

Linda had the day off. She and her family recently vacationed at their house in Bethany Beach, DE. You can see her blue wrist-band, required by all who enter the grounds.

We felt secure with our leader, Rich Fleisher, b/c of his hat:  Don't it look like the Canadian Royal Mounties?

He and I both ordered the Thai salad, replete with scrambled egg chunks and white chunks of chicken.

Exquisite brownies and choc chip cookies rounded out the meal at Peacock  Cafe, where a peacock roamed free.

Afterward, there was one more garden we wanted to see.

All the sculptures look better in person. I loved this one, reminiscent of folks in a canoe.

Next to the canoe was this trickling waterfall.

An imposing personna.

Reminiscent of Henry Moore, who, at my age, I call Henry Miller, author of Tropic of Cancer, one of the first banned books in America. It was smuggled into the US until the ban on obscenity was lifted by the Supreme Court. My dad brought it home and I read it. Nothing like a good dirty book for a teenager to read.

Plastic with plastic insert.

Okay, Linda, let's go to the gift shop. I'll buy $75 worth of merchandise, including yellow wind chimes w a solar light on top. I've always wanted wind chimes. These were reduced from $80 to $50.

Plus two great pair of earrings, one of which I'll mail to a friend.

I like 'feeling' the sculptures. The tactile reality of the world.

Later, at home:

I rescued this little Tykes car from the trash up the street. Grace already has one, so I gave it to Mike "The Helicopter Man's" young son Lucas. He and older brother Jake came running over with Mikaela, their adopted big sister.

Lest you think this lengthy blog is finished, two more great things.

Upon returning home from the outing, I get outa the car, and see a butterfly sipping the sugar water from our new hummingbird feeder.

Wait a minute, I think.

That ain't no's a hummingbird.

Photo from the Net.

By the time I got my camera out, it had flown away.

Scott was thrilled. "The word is out," he said.

Shortly thereafter, a white truck pulls up in front of my house.

I think it's my new gardener who I've only met once.

I yell out the door, "What days do you come to the neighborhood?"

"I come on garbage nite," he says. "I took your metal siding," which Scott had put out.

He wasn't my gardener, he's a man collecting scrap metal.

I took him to the back porch where I have a once-beloved A/C unit that I was gonna take to Best Buy. Instead, I gave it to Steve, who makes xtra money by bringing metal to the scrap yard.

He was laid off from his job.

As he drove off, I read his bumper sticker:

OBAMA: Last day Nov. 6.

Well, I'll tell you, I watched Charlie Rose interview Bob Woodward about his new book, The Price of Politics.

As much as I want Obama to win, I've gotta admit he's a very poor leader.


[I asked one of the groundskeepers if Julius from Liberia was still there. The Jehovahs Witnesses brought him. No, he left about five years ago.

This is the only version of the poem I could find. In a better version I did mention Julius.]

Quickly I separated myself from the rest
I needed to be alone with the art, the clay, the plaster, the marble,
the work that would stand and arch upward toward the sun
defying gravity
arching always
rising above the ground
these sculptures
long after their maker was dead and gone.

How they wished they could be here instead
How they loved the earth and everything on it
Their blue-eyed children
Their children with dark eyebrows just like their own
Bending down to tie the shoe
of the one they loved forever and forever.

How they wished it could be they that
were left and not just a thing.

But it were better than nothing.

I walked along a pond
where a fake sailboat had been placed
with a fake sailor
it looked so real
but wasn't.

The fakeness was not to my liking
but I sat down on the bank
among some pine cones
and looked across at a family of mallards
who pretended I wasn't there
and claimed mastery of the sea.

I pretended to undress and dip my feet into the cool water.
The sun was blazing. It was late September, the time
of year when my father had begun to die,
his death tied in with the loss of chlorophyll in the leaves
that lacklustre unenthusastic green of the leaves
that portends imminent death
and wait for it to go out in a blaze of glory
like my father did.

I walked desolate
as the sculptures
they could not bring
their makers back.

I felt the absence of the men who made them.
And walked the grass
among the gravity-defying sculptures
vying for ground.
I was one of them.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post, Ruthie! In my last poem I was grieving for one of my boyfriends, who dumped me. Thanks for taking all the time to take the pics and find out about em.