The Artist Behind the Sculptures
The grounds of Four Seasons Aviara have taken on a new look with the addition of four impressive life-sized bronze sculptures. These dramatic pieces are the work of world-renowned artist J. Seward Johnson and are displayed in prominent locations at both the Meadows and the Summit.
An heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, J. Seward has been creating art for the past 30 years, first as a painter and then as a sculptor. The figures he creates are bronze castings of real people engaged in everyday activities—a man reading the newspaper, a father teaching his daughter to ride a bike, a hitchhiker at the side of the road. More than 250 of Johnson’s sculptures are in private collections and museums around the world; his works are displayed at Rockefeller Centre in New York City, Les Halles in Paris, and Via Condotti in Rome. His largest and most dramatic work is The Awakening, an aluminium giant trying to emerge from the earth.
Another famous piece, Double Check, portrays a businessman looking in his briefcase. The sculpture had been on display in Liberty Plaza Park across from the World Trade Centre. Images of the damaged and dust-covered statue were among the photographs taken after the attacks of 9-11. Since then a restored version has been returned to the newly renamed Zuccotti Park.
Realistic textures and detailed craftsmanship are the hallmarks of Johnson’s sculptures. He begins each piece with a twelve-inch clay “sketch,” and then enlarges it to a life-sized figure. At this stage, he seeks out the perfect model. To create a gardener, he met with several landscapers before choosing a weathered man with deep wrinkles and the calloused hands of a manual labourer.
Once the life-sized figure is finished, he completes the cast and adds high-tech airplane paint that is resistant to the elements. Next comes a thin coating of acrylic, and then for extra protection, a layer of wax. After nearly two years, the piece is finally completed.
When running across a Johnson sculpture, you may also meet Johnson himself—he’s been known to loiter anonymously around his sculptures to gauge the public’s response to his work. So when strolling through Aviara, be sure to take note of the life-sized statues that dot the landscape. And if a youthful, 70-plus-year-old-man with a mischievous smile and gray hair asks for your opinion of the art, be sure to tell him you love his work.