‘Celebrating the Everyday’ project will honor late Hopewell artist J. Seward Johnson II

The Awakening, by J. Seward Johnson II. Photo by Ken Ek courtesy of The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc.

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council and the Seward Johnson Atelier are partnering on a year-long art project, “Seward Johnson: Celebrating the Everyday,” to honor the late J. Seward Johnson II’s life and the things that he loved. The project will run through January 2024 and will feature sculpture installations, events, and community engagement opportunities.

An internationally renowned sculptor, Johnson was one of Hopewell Valley’s most beloved and well-known artists and philanthropists supporting the arts. He served as an influential mentor to many local artists and was the founder of the Grounds For Sculpture and the Seward Johnson Atelier in Hamilton.

A highlight of the project will be the installation of Seward’s 70-foot-wide sculpture, “The Awakening,” at the D&R Greenway’s St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell. With support from the Atlantic Foundation, a Johnson family foundation, the Johnson Atelier received a grant for the installation.

“This project truly celebrates Seward’s spirit,” said Lynn DeClemente Losavio, program officer at the Seward Johnson Atelier. “Seward loved Hopewell Valley – the beautiful expanse of field and forest of St. Michaels, a sense of well-being and return to nature. He would have loved people wandering, finding their own story as they take advantage of the surrounding trails and community. The ‘giant’ really amplifies this feeling.”

The project also aims to bring 14 of Johnson’s hyper-realistic bronze sculptures to Hopewell Valley for a special six-month exhibition. His everyday life sculptures are typically placed in cultural or historic contexts to create the opportunity for creative exploration and conversation. In Hopewell Valley, sculptures will be installed in favorite high-visibility locations throughout Hopewell Township, Hopewell Borough, Pennington, and Titusville, including one at each school campus in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District.

Funding for the 14 sculptures will be crowd-sourced from corporate and local businesses, as well as from the community.

“We’re excited about the buzz working its way through Hopewell Valley!” said Carol Lipson, a member of the Hopewell Valley Arts Council board. “We hope that all of us who love Hopewell Valley will be inspired to contribute whatever they can to help reach our fundraising goals. This fun exhibition will bring together communities of Hopewell Valley, while helping our local businesses by attracting visitors and tourists.”

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council is partnering with local artists, organizations, and businesses for a celebration featuring all the things Johnson loved – nature, music, theater, dance, poetry, and food. Fundraising for the project has begun and will continue through mid-Apri.

A gathering to celebrate the arrival of “The Awakening” sculpture in Hopewell is slated for Sunday, May 21 at St. Michaels Preserve.