Tag Archives: art

Grounds for Sculpture: Seeing the Seward Johnson Exhibits

Pam and I ventured into New Jersey on our trip south after our time in the Pocono Mountains. We stopped by the Grounds for Sculpture.  It was an overcast day, with the  sun making occasional appearances. 

Grounds for Sculpture.

Grounds for Sculpture.

A Seward Johnson sculpture, Strolling Professor.

A Seward Johnson sculpture, Strolling Professor.

As we approached the Grounds for Sculpture we began seeing realistic sculptures of people in various poses by the road and near intersections. I didn’t remember them from before, so I was intrigued by them. After we arrived we learned they were part of a special Seward Johnson exhibit.

Seward Johnson’s sculptures were located throughout the venue. Many of them were very realistic and required a moment of examination to determine if they were patrons or art. I liked Strolling Professor. He was reading a chemistry textbook, and the page was complete with text and figures.

Pam and I spent some time impersonating sculptures on a bench by a small pond. We would hold still, and inevitably every few minutes people would walk along the far side of the pond, spot us, and stop to stare for a moment. This was followed by discussions about whether we were sculptures or people. Then I would wave my hand or move my head and laughter would float across the pond. We did this for half an hour–it was highly entertaining.

The Seward Johnson sculpture, Between Appointments.

The Seward Johnson sculpture, Between Appointments.

I had my picture taken by a hedge-trimming sculpture.


Most of the sculptures were life-sized, but some were  much larger than life. 

A large Seward Johnson sculpture of Marilyn Monroe.

A large Seward Johnson sculpture of Marilyn Monroe.

Another large Seward Johnson sculpture.

Another large Seward Johnson sculpture.


In one of the buildings many of the Seward Johnson sculpture prototypes were on display. The prototypes were about 12 inches tall and were not painted. It was fun to see the prototypes inside and then encounter the full-sized, finished versions outside.

One of the Seward Johnson sculpture prototypes.

One of the Seward Johnson sculpture prototypes.

The same building housed a section of sculptures that created 3-dimensional scenes from famous paintings. Visitors could walk in the display, thereby entering the painting. Pam walked into Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris: A Rainy Day (I didn’t capture the entire painting with the picture). 


The sculptures and gardens were beautiful.


I love the diversity of artwork. One of the whimsical statues captured my attention. Even though the title Sue’s Nightmare seems to indicate something menacing, I found the little critter amusing. It might even be smiling.

Sue's Nightmare, a sculpture that amused me.

Sue’s Nightmare, a sculpture that amused me.

The return of the photobomber.

The return of the photobomber.

The previous time I visited the Grounds for Sculpture I was disappointed to miss the peacocks. This time we saw a peacock wandering the grounds. It spent some time watching its reflection in glass. I expected nothing less form a peacock.

A peacock at the Grounds for Sculpture.

A peacock at the Grounds for Sculpture.

The Grounds for Sculpture is a delightful place to visit, made even more so delightful by the Seward Johnson exhibit. When art and gardens combine it is a wonderful thing.

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The 2010 Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts

Saturday completed the arts festival doubleheader. We went to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College, PA. I’ve been to this festival several times before, so I knew what to expect. Many of my favorite artists from years past (see blog posts from 2008 and 2009) were back.

An action shot from Arts Fest '10.

I did not get many pictures this time around. One display that caught my eye involved multi-dimensional photographs. I think I might experiment with this using a few of my own pictures  someday. Essentially the picture is cut into layers by focal depth. The layers are then mounted on a firm backing and spaced out slightly. It creates a very cool effect. It gave me all sorts of ideas about multi-dimensional flower photos.

We stopped by the Central Parklet to see sand sculptor Brad Goll at work. He was making an upright sculpture that highlighted transportation in Pennsylvania.

Brad Goll at work.

I really enjoy the State College Arts Fest. This year was no exception.

While we were walking out to the parking lot I saw a very interesting oak tree. Suddenly my mind shifted from art to horticulture.

An interesting oak tree.

Notice anything odd? The left side of the tree seems to be suffering from some sort of nutrient deficiency, while the right is thriving. Check out the difference in leaf color.

Green, greener.

Since we were walking I did not have time to instigate enough to figure out what was causing this. I’m sure it can be traced below ground. It is a root and/or soil issue. I’ve seen trees with a branch or two that looked different, but never a tree that was divided almost perfectly in half like this one was.

I’m glad we went to both art festivals this weekend. Each one was unique enough to justify attending it. I suspect my future involves more summer art festival doubleheaders.

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The 2010 People’s Choice Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts

Over the weekend my brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and niece stopped by State College to visit. We pulled an arts festival double header on Friday and Saturday. On Friday we went to the People’s Choice Arts Festival of Pennsylvania Arts & Crafts. I had never been to it before, so I was very interested to see how it compared to the State College Arts Fest.

The People’s Choice Arts Fest  is held at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, PA on the same weekend that the State College Arts Fest is held. It seems to be a blue collar version of the State College Arts Fest. A bit less pretensions perhaps.

Since it has been very hot and dry in Central PA recently the field that hosted the event was rather fried. Every one walked around on the ghost of the grass. It’s not easy being green.

I see dead grass.

But grass is resilient, underground the roots and crowns sit waiting patiently  for rain and cooler weather.

The first exhibit to catch my eye was a booth of exquisitely decorated egg shells. I neglected to locate the artist’s name, so I’m not sure who to credit. I checked the list of artisans on the festival program but could not find the artist. I was surprised that the prices of the eggs were not higher, most of them were less than $30.

Just look at all that detail.

Shaping metal.

Tim Bradford from the Dragon’s Breath Forge (Pleaseant Gap, PA) was doing some blacksmithing. He had a forge, anvil, and hammer, which he put to good use. It’s always neat to see products being constructed at art festivals. Especially when they involve shaping steel or cool equipment. Very close to the blacksmith set-up was a broom maker. He was assembling and trimming brooms at a rapid pace. The trimming implements were impressive. One looked like a massive medieval paper cutter and the other looked like a gigantic pair of primitive scissors.

One of my favorite artists was Roland Metal Art. They had small sculptures that incorporated railroad spikes and some large welded sculptures (a bear and a monkey). In hindsight I wish I had purchased the sculpture they had of a golfer getting ready to tee off (I think I might just order it off their website). Speaking of their website, you really should check it out and look at the various sculptures they make. Good stuff.

A Roland Metal Art sculpture.

Another artists with metal sculptures that I found interesting was Don Rea Designs (He’s based in Damascus, PA). His booth showcased fascinating creations. Bizarre contraptions that remind me of Dr Seuss and robots of all shapes and sizes. It was enjoyable to examine each piece  and identify the individual components.

A Don Rea creation.

At the festival some artists had signs up requesting that people not take photos of their work. I respected that request and did not take any pictures. While I find signs a bit excessive–and I would be very reluctant to support an artist that displayed one of those signs–posting a sign is a far better alternative to verbally berating someone for taking a picture at a booth that did not display signage to that effect. And one artists did that to me. Maybe he was just having a bad day, but Ron Stinson from Metal Expressions, Ltd. came across in a way that was less than flattering. So instead of a picture of his work (which I liked) and a recommendation with a link (which I intended to give), I will instead give my disapproval.

The People’s Choice Arts Fest has quite a bit of hands on activities for kids. One of the most conspicuous is a “train” that runs a circuit around the exhibit area.

The train in action.

On the train, prior to departure.

I enjoyed the People’s Choice Arts Festival. In some respects it is similar to the State College Arts Fest and in some it is very different. It has it’s own charm. I plan to go back next year.


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Flip Flop Fly Ball

Today I was reading  J.R. Briggs’ Blog, and I saw that he linked to a website called Flip Flop Fly Ball. I visited the site and it brightened my day. Flip Flop Fly Ball is the website equivalent of a candy bar. It’s positively delightful.

If you are a baseball fan you really need to check out Flip Flop Fly Ball. The creator of the site, Craig Robinson, makes infographics to illustrate baseball statistics and information. Here are a few examples of subjects:

  • The American Town farthest from a MLB Team (I will not be moving to Turner, Montana)
  • MLB Team Performance in Interleague Play
  • 2009 MLB Ticket Prices
  • The Native American Population in Cleveland, OH
  • MLB Ballpark Orientation
  • The Cumulative Distance of Every MLB Pitch in 2006

And so much more.

If you visit the site you should also check out the short essay written by Jake, the dove Randy Johnson killed in 2001 (the essay is sent from heaven).

Oh, and don’t forget to check out the legend for the blog header. . .

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An Arts Fest Stroll

This afternoon I took a walk around the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts after I finished my daily experiment maintenance. The Arts Fest is very entertaining. I could spend hours wandering around. I think I’ll go back at least one more time this weekend. Here are some highlights from today.

I saw the Two Man Gentlemen Band (composed of four members, go figure) playing on the Allen Stage. Their music reminds me of the early-to-mid 1900s. From what I  heard their lyrics are quite witty and their musicianship is sharp. I was very entertained. In fact, if I ever get a chance to see them again I will.  


The Two Man Gentlemen Band on the Allen Stage.

Arts Fest takes over downtown State College every year. Some of the streets are closed to auto traffic and lined with vendors, artists, water features, landscaping, and all sorts of interesting stuff.


There were no cars on Allen Street today.

Despite attending Arts Fest numerous times I still have not eaten there yet. It’s not for want of options. The country fair-esque variety of food vendors set up along the street is impressive. Maybe I’ll pick something up this weekend.


Is there anything more artistic than a cheesesteak?

The first artist to really catch my eye was Rob Hagarty. He creates wire tree sculptures. They  are all different sizes and many tree species are represented. These trees are high on my list of favorite art I have seen at Arts Fest over the years. Very cool.


Tree sculptures by Rob Hagarty.

Another artists caught my eye by creating metal plants. This time it was William Colburn. He creates all sorts of steel and metal sculptures. The centerpieces of his display were large flowers. Each one stood between four and five feet in height. Many of the flowers had intricate patterns etched or ground on the individual parts. While I found them interesting, I had no real desire to buy one.


Big flower sculptures by William Colburn.

I saw and heard a kilted band playing many bagpipes in front of Old Main. They produced some serious sound. I can’t believe how powerful bagpipes are. I watched from far away and the sound was loud, I can’t imagine how loud it must have been close to the stage. I tend to think of a rock concert as being hard on the ears, but a bagpipe concert might be just as bad.

About an hour after the bagpipers wrapped up their gig I saw them at the Creamery getting ice cream. How did I recognize them if I never got close to the stage to see their faces during the concert? It was easy. At the Creamery I saw a big group of people wearing matching kilts.

By this time it was late afternoon. Instead of heading home I decided to catch a Spikes game. I think I’ll make that a separate post. . .

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