It’s raining.
It’s cold.
And it’s windy.
She seems to be struggling with her groceries and shopping as she gets out of the butcher’s shop in the background. A passing car slows down, the driver obviously feeling sorry for the elderly lady. But as he moves closer he realizes she doesn’t really need any help. She’s fine the way she is.
She is one of the lifesize and lifelike structures that the Carmel Arts and Crafts District has, in Indiana.




The Carmel Arts and Crafts district sports a number of these sculptures. Each one equally riveting. A little girl watering flowers. A father setting his daughter off on that first bicycle ride. A policeman motioning you to stop. Then there’s one of a couple just out on the street, the man juggling an umbrella against the gusty winds so common here. A lady on a bench eschewing on what to write next.
The first one I saw was the policeman. As our car whizzed by I realized he had not moved. Later I saw the gentleman on the park bench reading the newspaper. Now I was excited. The little girl watering the plants appeared round the corner. And then the street musician, rapt in playing his violin with the case open on the floor outside a music shop. My eyes hungered for more. And I saw her. The lady with the French bread loaf sticking out of her grocery bag.

The sculptures are fascinating in their realism and surreal in the fact that they were absolutely in the midst of daily life. The sculptor, himself is interesting. J.Seward Johnson Jr. is the grandson of the founder of Johnson & Johnson. A realist sculptor he is often known as the Norman Rockwell of sculpture. Says J. Seward Johnson, Jr. , “I use my art to convince you of something that isn’t real. You laugh at yourself because you were taken in, and in that change of your perception, you become vulnerable to the piece and intimate with it in a certain way.”
It’s positively refreshing to see art brought out on the streets like this. If there is some relief to a hectic life that all of us lead today, it’s the little joy that a ‘thing of beauty’ brings. Somewhere in the olden times, kings and subjects alike knew that it was art that would keep them going. That’s why going back to the ancient times, temples were decorated with intricate carvings, palace walls were adorned with art, churches enshrined stained glass art, even mausoleums were inlaid with delicate designs and semi-precious stones in marble. Somewhere along the way art and craft gave way to technology. Today a computer screen gives greater joy than a canvas, a joystick more excitement than a chisel. And along the way comes stress and all that modern technology brings with it.

So it’s wonderful when hurtling down the road with an errand to run, you are suddenly taken aback and you stop for a moment and think, “Wait, what was that I just saw?!”. And you realize the figu
re you stopped for has actually stopped for you. It’s motionless. But it puts into motion a whole new train of thought in your mind. You pass the old woman in the street with a smile and when you come to the one that really stops you: that dramatic one, a representation of the iconic photograph of a World War II soldier kissing a nurse.
There! Isn’t that another story unfolding in your mind?!
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