March 8, 2023

Johnson Honored in Year-Long Art Project

“THE AWAKENING”: The late J. Seward Johnson’s 70-foot-wide sculpture will be installed at D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell Township in May as part of the year-long project “Seward Johnson | Celebrating the Everyday.” (Photo by Ken Ek)

Something really big is coming to Hopewell Valley thanks to the Hopewell Valley Arts Council and the Seward Johnson Atelier. Together, they are partnering on an ambitious year-long art project, “Seward Johnson | Celebrating the Everyday,” to honor the late J. Seward Johnson II’s life and the things that he loved. The project runs from now through January 2024, and will incorporate sculpture installations, events, and community engagement.

An internationally renowned sculptor, Johnson was one of Hopewell Valley’s most beloved and well-known artists. Seward Johnson embodied the Johnson family’s long tradition of philanthropy along with his own interest, the arts. Serving as an influential mentor to many local artists, he was the founder of Grounds For Sculpture and the Seward Johnson Atelier in Hamilton.

A highlight of the project will be the installation of Johnson’s 70-foot-wide monumental sculpture, “The Awakening,” at D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell Township, just outside of Hopewell Borough. With support from the Atlantic Foundation, a Johnson family foundation, the Johnson Atelier received a generous grant for its installation. The public is invited to an artful gathering to celebrate the arrival of the sculpture on Sunday, May 21 at St. Michaels Preserve.

“This project truly celebrates Seward’s spirit,” said Lynn DeClemente Losavio, program officer at the Seward Johnson Atelier. “Seward loved Hopewell Valley — the beautiful expanse of field and forest of St. Michaels, a sense of well-being and return to nature. He would have loved people wandering, finding their own story as they take advantage of the surrounding trails and community. The ‘giant’ really amplifies this feeling.”

The project also aims to bring 14 of Johnson’s hyper-realistic bronze sculptures to Hopewell Valley for a special six-month exhibition. Seward Johnson’s everyday life sculptures are typically placed in cultural or historic contexts to create the opportunity for creative exploration and conversation. In Hopewell Valley, sculptures will be installed in high-visibility locations throughout Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough, Pennington, and Titusville, including one at each school campus in Hopewell Valley Regional School District.

Funding for the 14 sculptures will be crowd-sourced from corporate and local businesses, as well as from the community.

“We’re excited about the buzz working its way through Hopewell Valley,” said Carol Lipson, HV Arts board member. “We hope that all of us who love Hopewell Valley will be inspired to contribute whatever they can to help reach our fundraising goals. This fun exhibition will bring together communities of Hopewell Valley, while helping our local businesses by attracting visitors and tourists.”

Additionally, the HV Arts Council is partnering with local artists, organizations, and businesses for a full celebration to include nature, music, theater, dance, poetry, and food: all the things Johnson loved. Fundraising for the project began in February and continues through mid-April 2023.

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