July 29, 2012

New Jersey’s Hidden Gem—Grounds For Sculpture with Jennifer Wilck

Except for my four years in college, I’ve lived in New Jersey my entire life. I love it. It’s a great place to grow up and to raise a family. In my latest book, Skin Deep, the heroine’s parents live in New Jersey and the hero and heroine explore some of the wonderful hiking trails on a visit over Thanksgiving. They also visit the racetrack and do some shopping.
New Jersey offers plenty of things to do—beaches, boardwalks, mountains, lakes, shopping, theater. It’s close enough to New York and Philadelphia to provide a city diversion, and has hidden treasures tucked away that can surprise and delight you.
My family and I discovered one of those hidden treasures in May, the Grounds For Sculpture (http://www.groundsforsculpture.org/) in Hamilton, NJ. I visited there with my in-laws, my husband and my two children as an early Mother’s Day celebration.
The Grounds are well hidden within an industrial park. For me, it kind of symbolizes New Jersey itself. People who are unfamiliar with my state are often put off by the industrial setting surrounding the airport and assume the rest of the state is like that. But if they drive a little further and are willing to explore a bit, they’ll quickly see how wrong they are. We have beaches and mountains and farmland and lakes and shopping and theater and...well, lots of amazing things to do.
So, too, with this sculpture garden. As you approach the garden, there are sculptures by the side of the road. There is a giant bench with an old woman next to the train tracks; a father teaching his child to ride a bike on a neighboring sidewalk; a modern sculpture in the front of an office building. All of these sculptures blend into their surroundings, but give the discerning traveler a hint of the wonders to come.
We entered the Grounds, paid our fee and parked. Then we explored. My kids were initially enthralled by the peacocks who wandered around with us, including the pure white one. But then we moved on toward the sculptures and they forgot all about the peacocks. Some of the sculptures are interactive, like a metal one that you hit with mallets and listen to the various sounds it makes.
There are a variety of modern sculptures that somehow blend into their surroundings.
There are the ones that take you completely by surprise, such as the pair sleeping under the trees.
There are also several that imitate works of art.
My favorites were the Monet sculptures, which you get to by walking through the restaurant called Rats. Despite its name, it supposedly serves delicious food and is right on the water. If you go inside, you’ll see a sign that says, “No Cats.” Could be my sense of humor, but I found that very funny!
There are also exhibition halls that you can walk through, although it was such a lovely day that by the time we were finished with the grounds, no one wanted to go indoors. I’ll have to go back to see those exhibits. Some of the sculptures are on permanent display and others rotate, so there’s always something new to see.
Have you been? What were your favorite sculptures?
Jennifer Wilck is a contemporary romance writer. Her two books, A Heart of Little Faith, a publisher’s best seller, and Skin Deep, are published by Whiskey Creek Press. She can be reached through the following links:
Heroines With Hearts blog: http://www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com
Believing is Seeing blog: http://sandrasookoo.wordpress.com/
(Photos provided by author)


  1. Hi Jennifer,

    Growing up on the East Coast, my family spent many summers vacationing on New Jersey beaches like Cape May. Thanks for highlighting a new attraction I'll have to visit the next time I'm in your area!

    Best of luck with your new book!

  2. Hi Jennifer: I lived in NJ for 32 years, even worked for the state, although not something to brag about. I lived near the Grounds for Sculpture, abnd my friend, Stefanie Mandelbaum has exhibited there. In fact she is doing a workshop there soon on teaching math through art.It is quite beautiful. There are many lovely place in NJ that most peoople neveer see if they stay on the Turnpike and just drive through. Thanks for such a nice posting. Lots of luck with your books.

  3. A different look at a too-often ignored state to visit. Thanks for pointing out a new attraction, Jennifer.

  4. Hi Fran and Debbie, thanks for stopping by. Debbie, I hope you get a chance to visit the Grounds. Fran, your friend's workshop sounds terrific! I may have to take another trip.

  5. very interesting, thank you!

  6. I lived in East Orange while I was in high school and never got to explore NJ enough. This sculpture garden sounds wonderful. NJ is a great state!

  7. Alan MossJuly 29, 2012

    I was born and raised in Trenton, maybe 15 minutes from there. I've never been but my wife and daughter (who now lives in Princeton) love the place. In addition to the sculptures, they rave about the restaurant on the grounds not to be missed.

  8. Thanks for stopping by, John and Sandra! Ana, it's fantastic! Alan, the restaurant is supposed to be amazing. Never been, but might have to go back.

  9. Jennifer, I LOVE the Grounds for Sculpture! Being a non-native New Jerseyan, I only discovered them a couple of years ago. Seeing the sculptures in a beautiful natural setting adds all sorts of resonance to them; I love figuring out the curators sited the pieces where they did. And Rats is fabulous! Thanks for bringing back great memories!

  10. I love finding hidden treasures in my hometown or nearby. The sculpture garden sounds amazing....makes me want to take a trip to New Jersey just to see it. (Although, aside from that the only thing I really know about New Jersey is that's where Jon Bon Jovi is from...what can I say? I was a teenager in the 80s!)

  11. Sounds like a great place to visit, although a restaurant called Rats sounds rather strange!

  12. Hi Nancy & Debra. Thanks for stopping by. It's so much better seeing the sculptures outside than in a museum. And Debra, Bon Jovi is awesome, of course!

  13. Hey Paula, thanks for stopping by. The next time you're in the U.S., you should put it on your list. And you're right, the restaurant name is weird.

  14. I went to high school in New Jersey, but I never visited this park. Will have to look for it.
    Debby236 at gmail dot com

  15. Debby, it's a little hard to find, but totally worth the effort!

  16. Annette, thanks again for having me as a guest this week! And thanks to everyone who stopped by and read or commented.


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