May 24, 2023

Seward Johnson Sculptures Installed in Downtown Trenton

PUBLIC ART IN TRENTON: Life-sized bronze cast sculptures “Special Delivery,” “Body Music,” and “Getting Down,” shown here, and six other works by the late J. Seward Johnson are on display through October in locations throughout downtown Trenton. (Photos by Ken Ek)

Nine works by internationally renowned sculptor J. Seward Johnson were installed in various locations in the heart of downtown Trenton on May 4. The life-sized bronze cast sculptures, on loan from the Seward Johnson Atelier through October, celebrate “the familiar,” a recurring theme in Johnson’s work. When walking through downtown Trenton, viewers will find sculptures of people doing ordinary, everyday things, like reading a local newspaper or taking pictures.

Yet, there is nothing ordinary about Johnson’s work and legacy. Born in New Brunswick, Johnson, who founded the Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, is best known for such gigantic and iconic works as Embracing Peace, Awakening, and Forever Marilyn, as well as hundreds of figures engaged in relatable, day-to-day activities.

“We received great support from Isles and Trenton’s art community members for this initiative with Seward Johnson Atelier,” said Bryan Evans of the Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) Board of Directors. “We see this initiative as a way to add to a series of physical enhancements downtown and celebrate a community coming together around public art. We’re leveraging this program to highlight Trenton’s art community, encourage engagement across the city and attract more foot traffic.”

Isles supported the TDA by contributing $6,500 toward the art installation through funding from the Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) Old Trenton Neighborhood, a program from the Department of Community Affairs that Isles helps to facilitate in downtown Trenton, as well as through the Downtown Trenton Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP), which Isles coordinates on behalf of the City of Trenton.

“The Downtown Public Art Installations project aligns with our goals of continuing to infuse the arts in downtown and developing the Creek to Canal Creative District,” said Chris Shimchick of Isles. “It also aligns with the Downtown Trenton NPP Stakeholders Group composed of downtown residents, business owners, property owners, and faith-based leaders, who reviewed and approved these funds.”

The TDA is planning a series of activities to promote the exhibition and engage Trenton’s art scene. But, for now, they welcome the public to come downtown to see the exhibit.

“We chose locations in front of key areas, all within a short walk of each other, to encourage reactions and conversations,” said Evans. “People are posing for selfies with the sculptures and just generally having fun.”

The sculptures are on display in front of such spots as Starbucks on Warren Street, Mill Hill Park, the Lafayette Garage Plaza, Passage Theatre, City Hall, and Maestro Technologies.

For more information, call (609) 337-8439, email or visit