The remarkable GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE is like no place I’ve ever been. Part museum, part botanical gardens, this indoor/outdoor art gallery contains the realistic and abstract, the sublime and ridiculous. As remarkable as the space looked during my visit, I left thinking that I could probably enjoy entirely different experiences of it in the spring, summer, or fall ; in the early morning or by the light of the scattered lampposts and landscape lights. So large and diverse is the installation, that every trip there seems as though it would offer something unique.
On the afternoon I spent at this world class exhibition — tucked into a quiet, central New Jersey town between Trenton and Princeton — the plants on the snow covered landscape were still shivering, but doing so with their leaves turned optimistically toward the sun. The scenes produced by the intersection of the natural and man-made artwork on that Eve of Spring inspired my latest STELLER STORY, readable by clicking on the photo below.
Click the photo above to view scenes from the Grounds for Sculpture.
There are almost no places
Where there are no faces
Even in the cases
Of in-between spaces
Like the Frowning-Big Tree
His acting has no range
Which isn’t so strange:
Bark expressions don’t change.
Or the Tractor-Wheel Elf
While his view always spins
That strong rubber chin
Won’t let sickness set in.
Perry is the given name
of Snowy-House Face.
While the world to summer always wants to race
He for hot weather forever must brace.
Yes, even while you
sit at work thinking
Take it from me
the Garden-Stone Grump
I may look like a rock-headed chump
But I’ve gathered perspective here from my rump:
Ungaze from the obvious, like Mr. Moon,
Don’t let on the foreground your focus last
And slowly at first but before long fast
Will appear all the faces you used to rush past.
NOTE: To see this poem with photos in the STELLER STORY format in which it originally appeared, click here.
Due to the boundaries of conventional photography, it’s necessary to see the Grand Canyon in person if you want to have any real sense of it. Even then, the limitations of the human eyeball and depth perception make it challenging to compute what exactly it is that’s before you. The scale. The structure. The origin story. They combine to form something like nothing else, and so by definition, laying eyes on it is a moment for which you cannot be prepared. Even as you’re looking at the Canyon, it’s hard to know where to direct your eyes first, next, or last. The result can be a sort of dizzying rush of astonishment and adrenaline.
As man made things go, the $1 Million Staircase — located in the New York State Capitol Building in Albany, NY — sent my head into similar spaces. Capturing a photograph that could successfully illustrate both the massiveness and nuance of the Stairs seemed impossible. In an effort to instead take a series of mental snapshots, every neck contortion and eye swivel I could muster felt insufficient. There was simply too much to the space, also referred to in Capitol parlance as The Great Western Staircase, to feel like I’d seen or digested it all. To try and add it up as I walked it was to be transported into a real-life composite of MC Escher artwork, someplace at once concrete and impossible.
The Staircase is a singular sight with a remarkable story ; for someone interested in art, architecture, or history, it’s an absolute must-see. And believe it or not, the tour is free ; not a bad deal for a look at something priceless that may just leave you speechless.
For a sneak peek and more on how the $1 Million Staircase came to be, read my Steller Story on it by clicking the photo below.
To see The $1 Million Staircase inside the historic New York State Capitol Building via @StellerStories, click on the image above.