From the train station in Hamilton, New Jersey, you can get to New York’s Penn Station in about an hour. If you commute from Hamilton you already know about the larger-than-life sculptures that will see you off on your trip. But if you are coming to Hamilton from New York for the first time, be prepared for their unexpected greeting.
All around the train station are super-sized figures by contemporary artist and philanthropist J. Seward Johnson II (that’s “Johnson” as in “Johnson & Johnson”). Johnson is a strong proponent of public art installations, and these works are the starting point of a visual guide to reach Hamilton’s renowned sculpture garden, just a couple of miles away. Among the station pieces are mariachi musicians, Renoir-inspired dancers, a curious couple gawking at another curious couple, and one more couple gawking at a giant tooth.
Johnson is a long-time Hamiltonian, well known for the ambitious Grounds for Sculpture at the old New Jersey state fairgrounds. For nearly 25 years the 42-acre site has brought oversized and quirky works to an unusually wide audience for contemporary art. Grounds for Sculpture and the station installations are all the brainchildren of Johnson, who has several of his giant real-life-inspired pieces also installed in the park.
His train station sculptures are impossible to miss—at 20-feet tall, they loom over the parking lots. There are many more pieces lining the route to Grounds for Sculpture, most of which are works by other artists. But Johnson has set the tone for your arrival in Hamilton—one of whimsy, curiosity, and ultimately high spirit. A perfect train station greeting.