Dallas Arboretum ‘Celebrates the Familiar’ With New Sculpture Exhibit

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden kicked off its Summer of Sculpture festival on Monday, June 22, featuring 25 bronze sculptures from artist Seward Johnson’s “Celebrating the Familiar” collection. The exhibit will be on display until July 31.

Supported in part by the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District, Johnson’s collection consists of life-size sculptures of people performing familiar tasks, like gardening, fishing and reading. The aim of the exhibit is to celebrate the value in everyday activities and to encourage taking a moment to savor them.

“The theme is ‘celebrate the familiar,’ so we just thought that ended up really interesting considering everything going on,” said Terry Lendecker, vice president of advertising and promotions for the Dallas Arboretum. “These are simple tasks, and his thought process behind that was, ‘Don’t let the simple tasks become too mundane.’” 

Johnson, who passed away in March at age 89, was known for his hyper-realistic sculptures that made passersby take a second glance. Vice President of Gardens Dave Forehand said that he’s found himself having to do a double-take since the artworks have been placed around the Arboretum.

Forehand said that sometimes when he sees visitors sitting or standing, he momentarily mistakes them for the statues. “I think people are really going to enjoy coming out and seeing them,” he added.

Chairman Alan Walne said that the delivery of the lifelike statues, which had been planned to be displayed prior to the coronavirus outbreak, was slowed down by a few shipping delays. The final sculpture, “Waiting to Cross,” arrived on the opening day of the exhibition.

“Waiting to Cross” was the last sculpture delivered to the Dallas Arboretum around 11 a.m. on Monday. Photo by Morgan Pryor.

“Like everything, you just have to be flexible, but it’s very welcome,” Walne said. “We’re glad to get it finally here and get it out [and] have something for people to enjoy in the garden.”

Visitors wishing to view the new exhibit are encouraged to adhere to certain safety protocols, like wearing face masks and following the modified, one-way path to maintain social distancing.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our guests and employees, and these new plans and procedures make that possible,” Mary Brinegar, Dallas Arboretum president and CEO, said in a statement. 

Lendecker said that the Arboretum has had a successful reopening since June 1. After holding a soft opening for members, volunteers and first responders, she said that visitors reported being glad to return to the garden.

“They came and we had everything in place, from social distancing to restroom monitors to the amount of tickets that we were able to sell at one time, so we started out at 250 and we’re up to 1,000 now,” Lendecker said. “Everyone is really just kind of glad to just be outside [and] back outdoors.”

To minimize physical contact, advance online timed tickets are now required for entry to the Arboretum, and can be purchased by calling 214-515-6615 or visiting www.dallasarboretum.org.

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