I was walking along 3rd Avenue in Spring Lake yesterday, when I noticed a lady sitting on a bench. I was befuddled at first because she looked ghostly greenish and she seemed frozen. I got a little closer and then it came to me: Seward Johnson in Princeton. No doubt about it, but what was she doing in Spring Lake?
When Carl Hoffman of Ocean Grove and I visited Palmer Square in Princeton a few years ago, we saw a life-sized sculpture of a student reading a book. It was a bronze figure by the famous American sculptor Seward Johnson who was known for these realistic works of art. I thought that if this inflexible character could get into Princeton, surely Carl could, so we did a photo which was posted on BF a few years ago. So that is how I first learned about this artist.So back to Spring Lake: There was a plaque identifying the work, so I figured one of those well-healed Springers had donated the woman to the town. I went into a real-estate office behind her and learned that this was a free outdoor art exhibit this fall of Johnson’s work. 14 of his “people” were scattered around the downtown area. Local citizens arranged the event presented by the Spring Lake Business Improvement District along with the Spring Lake 5, the Spring Lake library, and the Clayton Livery.
As I explored the downtown, I found some more of Johnson’s bronze people. They were positioned in such a way that they seemed to fit in. I especially liked the photographer as we took pictures of each other.It reminded me of the outdoor wall art seen around Asbury Park. Art adds life to a community, and Ocean Grove could use more art around town, and not just hidden inside galleries. Eileen and I are doing our part by exhibiting the 6 foot tall red metal sculpture “Etruscan Horse” in our backyard. I bet some of you have some art around your property. Someone should catalogue that and hand out a walking tour to visitors. We could use some more outdoor art exhibits in-season in the Grove. The irony is that painters often come to the Grove to capture our historic buildings, but their work usually gets shown elsewhere. But it wasn’t only art appreciation day; I got to visit the Irish store there where I purchased a hat like John Wayne wore in the “Quiet Man.” That movie is definitely worth owning.
Moya and Aiden Rush, the owners of the Irish Centre at 1120 3rd Avenue, offer a huge selection of those Donegal County soft woolen caps in a variety of sizes and designs. I chose between one that was a bit too large to one that was a bit too small, so Moya suggested I opt for comfort and not worry about the shore breezes. Moya also told me that I would look good in my cap even though I am not of the Irish persuasion. I don’t even have a shillelagh (try spelling that without Google.) I do have a walking stick carried back on the plane from (gasp!) England.
Perhaps I could get some credit if I admit that Irish girls always seemed unusually cute to me–it’s the cut of their jib. After all I did marry an Eileen, although her roots are far from the Emerald Isle. Or I could tell you how things are in Glocca Morra. You know, where the lassie with the twinklin’ eye comes smilin’ by……So don’t fail to visit Spring Lake…it’s a beautiful town, and check out their lakes: so clean and inviting!
“So I ask each weepin’ willow and each brook along the way,
And each lass that comes a-sighin ‘Too ra lay,’
How are things in Glocca Morra this fine day?”