Posted by: groundsforsculpture | May 9, 2010

WERE You Invited?

"Were You Invited" by Seaward Johnson, cast bronze and aluminum, 2001. Sculpture Courtesy of the Sculpture Foundation Inc. Photo by G Hsu


By Grace Hsu, Docent

Some of the most popular sculptures in the collections of Grounds For Sculptures are the Seward Johnson works that are based on famous nineteenth-century Impressionist paintings. They not only transform the viewer’s feeling about a beautiful painting into the reality of walking into the three dimensions of the scene and interacting with life-size nineteenth-century figures; visitors may even step into an unforgettable experience beyond the frame: the personal touches Seward Johnson creates in his sculptures and their titles. On Mother’s Day a few years ago, I witnessed such an encounter while I was leading a weekend tour.

It was a beautiful spring day. After directing my group to the last work on the tour, I was waiting by the Dance Pavilion behind Rat’s Restaurant for five or six people who were taking photos and had fallen behind the group. Suddenly I saw two seven or eight year old girls running in the direction of that last sculpture and a woman following them.

“Mom, can we go in there?” While asking, the two girls already disappeared behind the bushes. Then I heard the mother:

“Were You Invited?” NO! DON’T GO IN THERE! WE ARE NOT INVITED!”

I was amused, walked over, and said: “Yes, you can go in there. What is on the sign is the title of the sculpture, not a warning.”

“Really? Thank you.” She was pleasantly surprised and gave me a big smile.

When I walked to the sculpture with the rest of my group, the mother was taking pictures for the girls and said to me:

“It is so beautiful. I am embarrassed.”

“Oh, please do not feel that way. I thought that was charming. It is Mr. Johnson’s sense of humor. He would be delighted if he were here.”

“Now you have a story to tell,” she relaxed and teased me.

She was right. At a special event last October, I had the chance to tell the story to Mr. Johnson himself, and he was delighted.

When Mr When Johnson heard the story. Photo by David Steele

NOTE: “Were You Invited?” was inspired by the impressionist painting, “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

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