(TRENTON, NJ) -- Nine works by internationally renowned sculptor Seward Johnson were installed in various locations in the heart of downtown Trenton on Thursday, May 4, 2023. These life-sized bronze cast sculptures, on loan from Seward Johnson Atelier through October 2023, celebrate “the familiar,” a recurring theme in Johnson’s work. Walk through downtown Trenton, and you 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, N.J., Johnson, who founded the Grounds for Sculpture, 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,” says Bryan Evans, of the Trenton Downtown Association 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 Trenton Downtown Association 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 (C2C) Creative District,” says Chris Shimchick from 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 Trenton Downtown Association is planning a series of activities to promote the exhibition and engage Trenton’s vibrant 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,” adds Evans. “People are posing for selfies with the sculptures and just generally having fun.”
See if you can find all nine Seward Johnson sculptures 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. And don’t forget to tag TDA on Facebook and Instagram.
Trenton Downtown Association, located at 16 East Hanover Street, in the heart of downtown Trenton, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen and support the business district of New Jersey’s state capital with programs that promote its economic growth and investment. Its staff is involved in business recruitment and retention, public relations, advocacy, marketing support, referrals, partnership development and job creation.
IMAGES: Seward Johnson, Special Delivery @1993 The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc. photo by Ken Ek ; Seward Johnson, Body Music @1985 The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc. photo by Ken Ek; Seward Johnson, Getting Down @1983 The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc., photo by Ken Ek