For many years, traveling and writing about my experiences has been my passion. While visiting Key West, Florida in 2007, I stumbled upon the most amazing art exhibit in my memory. It was “Beyond the Frame, Impressionism Revisited,” composed of mixed media and bronze sculptures depicting in life-size in 3D a number of famous paintings by French Impressionist artists. This incredible art work, created by J. Seward Johnson, Jr., was displayed so that the viewer could step inside and become of a part of the piece of art. This work was on view for about a year at the Key West Museum of Art and History at the Custom House.
I was especially fascinated by Van Gogh’s “Bedroom” and Renoir’s “The Boating Party.” As an elementary school art teacher, I often display prints of Van Gogh paintings as examples for the children to use as their “points of departure” for classroom assignments. I took a wide variety of photographs of these remarkable Johnson sculptures and posted them around our art room for inspiration when I returned home.
A few years ago, while attending art classes at the College of William and Mary, I enjoyed watching one of the students create an excellent large scale copy of “The Boating Party”. The painting took the student the entire year to complete. Because of that experience, I was even more interested in studying the sculpture of the painting. I came home with quite a few photographs taken of “The Boating Party” sculpture from different angles. In one of them, my husband appears to be inviting one of the pretty young ladies out on a date—so realistic in appearance I felt a little jealous!
When I go back to Key West this year, the fantastic sunsets will still be there. I can visit the Hemingway house and the bars that famous writer frequented, but I shall miss the astonishing sculptures I saw one hot day in 2007. I wish they would return to that museum and that I could study them more closely.
Seward Johnson is a gifted artist with a sense of humor and marvelous talent. I suspect his art has inspired many a writer. I wonder what Hemingway would have thought.
©Mary Montague Sikes