The main road from the nearby Jersey Turnpike and Interstate highway enters Haddonfield through a traffic circle featuring this soaring bronze dancer. Called “Ballerina,” it was created by sculptor Barry Woods-Johnson who was inspired by a dancer he saw in a theater play in the 1960s. It’s one of many pieces of large Haddonfield sculpture scattered across the town.
As part of my working-from-home routine during this era of coronavirus lockdown, I do a daily two-mile trek that takes me through the center of Haddonfield, NJ. There’s not a lot to see there now with everything closed, so, to add some interest, I began to search out Haddonfield sculpture. The borough developed an appreciation for large-scale public art back in 2001 when it kicked off a two-year project to create a life-size sculpture of the historic dinosaur whose fossil was discovered here in 1858. After that bronze creature took its place at the center of town, other sculptures began to appear and in 2013, the Haddonfield Outdoor Sculpture Trust (HOST) was formed to take a more systematic approach to making Haddonfield its own kind of unique sculpture garden. Today, the main road from the nearby Jersey Turnpike and Interstate highway enters Haddonfield through a traffic circle featuring this soaring bronze dancer. Called “Ballerina,” it was created by sculptor Barry Woods-Johnson who was inspired by a dancer he saw in a theater play in the 1960s.
The one that started it all, “Hadrosaurus foulkii,” was designed and created by John Giannotti, a local sculptor with a worldwide reputation. His monumental bronze works are in collections in Europe, South America and Asia. The historic dinosaur work was the focus of an 18-month fund raising drive while the community was invited into Giannotti’s studio to actually take part in various stages of creating the sculpture. It played a major role in sparking public interest in public art works.
The set of three eight-foot high metal pyramids entitled “Three States of Being” are one of five large sculptures donated to Haddonfield by Rowan College at Burlington County. The work by Carl Billingsley is installed on the grounds of Grace Episcopal Church. Billingsley, a former professor and coordinator of the sculpture program at East Carolina University in North Carolina, continues his sculpture projects in retirement.
“Uno” is a metal construction by Miguel Antonio Horn of Bala Cynwyd, Pa. and, in 2013, was the first sculpture to be installed by the Haddonfield Outdoor Sculpture Trust (HOST). Horn has several permanent public artworks installed around the Delaware Valley area.
A favorite in Haddonfield’s town-wide sculpture garden is Tumaini (nickname Tumi), a 12-foot high giraffe that has been installed in the Children’s Sculpture Zoo park on Kings Highway.
The latest two items in the Children’s Sculpture Zoo are a bronze sculpture of Baby Ndotto the elephant and a French lion bench. Ndotto is a real elephant with a heroic 2014 story. Only two days out of the womb, the premature baby was a abandoned by its mother in Kenya’s remote Ndotto mountains and discovered laying in the midst of a goat herd by a tribal shepherd. Rescued by helicopter by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the baby was named for the mountains where he as found — a Swahili term meaning “to dream”: Ndotto. He went on to become an icon of animal conversation and is celebrated in this sculpture by Australian artists Gillie and Marc Shattner.
The abstract “Unity” sculpture is the work of Hanna Jubran, a Professor of Sculpture at East Carolina University in North Carolina. His is another of the pieces donated to Haddonfield by Rowan College. Jubran, a Palestinian Arab, came to the U.S. from the Upper Galilee region of northern Israel as a young man; his work has appeared in exhibits and museums around the world.
Created by an unknown catalog sculptor, “Exhuberant Girl” was installed on the front lawn of Haddonfield’s borough Hall to honor former Mayor Letitia “Tish” Columbi, who served for 12 years as major and 28 years as a commissioner, and was a driving force whose vision made the first dinosaur sculpture project possible.
Haddonfield’s Grace Episcopal Church is a compound of buildings with several garden walkways and alcoves. In one of them is this bronze sculpture of the hands of St. Francis protruding from coarse tunic sleeves as they release the dove of peace into the air. Along with founding the Franciscan Order, the 12th-century cleric is famed for his efforts to stop the Crusades. The artist of this work is not known.
A 1987 work of the late Seward Johnson, “Shaping Up” is a life-size sculpture of a young women in workout garb situated in the center of Haddonfield’s shopping district. Johnson was an internationally renowned sculptor and the creator of the Grounds for Sculpture park in Hamilton Township, NJ. He is famed for his life-sized figures of people going about their daily lives.
Joshua Koffman, whose “Europa” sculpture sits in front of the Republic Bank bank on Kings Highway, has been fascinated since childhood with the culture of ancient Greece. Greek mythology holds that the God Zeus assumed the form of a tame bull to lure the young beauty Europa onto his back so that he could abduct her. This is the abduction in progress.
So is the “Steadfast and Loyal” title referring to the cat, the elderly man or the woman or both? The work is attributed to a sculptor named Ken Ross. This is one of the most photographed of all the sculptures.
Installed near the front door of the Haddonfield Library, this sculpture by an unknown artist is called “Boy Reading on Top of the World.” It was donated by the Haddonfield Garden Club to commemorate the Club’s 100th anniversary in 2006 by the family and friends of Angelo F. Gargano.
Another donation to Haddonfield from Rowan College of Burlington County is the heavily rusted “Empty Bowl/Light Series” by Susan Hise.
“Refugee from El Salvador” is located at the very center of Haddonfield and was created by the late Joe Brenman, a sculptor who was involved in a number of ways with the Central American refugee community. The Vietnam War veteran often invited individuals from the Philadelphia Sanctuary Movement into his studio to sculpt their likenesses.
Located in a quiet garden area not far from the Haddonfield PATCO High Speed Line station, “Nembutsu Love” is a work of Barry Parker, a former faculty member at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Past President of the Sculptor’s Guild of New York. The work is named for a prayer practice that involves calling the Buddha’s name.
“Stanley the Witness” is a piece on Kings Highway by Michelle Post and is one of the art works from an exhibit of heads by the artist at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, N.J.
The Red Heart by M.L. Duffy has become one of the most popular of Haddonfield’s sculptures and the site of a wedding and dozens of wedding vow renewal ceremonies since its installation. On Valentine’s Day, King’s Court, where the Heart is located, is crammed with people who want photo ops with the icon of love.
Located at Haddonfield’s center where Kings Highway and Haddon Avenue intersect, John Giannotti‘s “My Dog Blue” stands guard. The piece is of King, the dog that accompanied famed Arctic explorer Matthew Henson to the North Pole at the turn of the 20th century. Another of Giannotti’s sculptures of Henson and the same dog stands in front of Camden’s Maritime Museum.
Forty years ago, after studying economics at the Wharton School and pursuing stone carving as a hobby, the late Eric Berg switched majors, dropping economics and taking up studies for a Master of Fine Arts at Penn. His first public piece was a bronze African warthog commissioned by the Philadelphia Zoo. He’s been focused on animal sculptures ever since. His “Sea Lion,” “Rabbit” and “Toad” are part of Haddonfield’s Children’s Sculpture Zoo park.
“The Muse” is a soaring sculpture standing in front of Haddonfield’s Markeim Art Center. It is the work of Joe Mooney, who specializes in welded steel works that often make sheets of enormously heavy metal appear as light as dried leaves. A Philadelphian, Mooney’s creations have been widely displayed or installed in museums, college campuses and corporate grounds across the country.
In the 1940s and 50s, Thomas Bichko’s father was a mailman in western Pennsylvania. Bichko’s sculpture of his father was done from a photo. He assumed the Postal Service would be thrilled to have such an art work in front of one of its post offices. Wrong. The USPS doesn’t allow artworks on its federal grounds. So Haddonfield put “The Mailman” on public grounds — the borough sidewalk in front of its own post office. Bichko lives and sculpts in Nanty Glo, Cambria County, Pa.
Back in the 1980s, the commercial building at 50 Tanner Street across from the Haddonfield Library was owned by a gentleman who was a part time artist and placed his artworks around the grounds. One of them — this metal sculpture of Don Quixote — he built into a brick grotto in the building’s side wall. The striking work is still there as one of Haddonfield’s least noticed artworks.
A sculpture of a different kind — a twisted piece of the North Tower of the World Trade Center from 911 — stands in front of the Haddonfield Fire Company No. 1. The rusted steel form seems to resemble an eagle with its wings torn off.