At Laurelwood Arboretum, Sculptures Mingle Among Nature

The curated trail in Wayne boasts 15 sculptures, installed by thirty-foot cranes.

Sculptures at the Laurelwood Arboretum.
From left: Works by Woodcliff Lake artist Ulla Novina and Jersey City artist Robert Koch. Courtesy of WRK Media

About 2 1/2 years ago, a longtime client reached out to Scott Broadfoot about curating a sculpture trail at Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne.

Broadfoot lives only 15 minutes away in Boonton, but was unfamiliar with the location. However, once he arrived at the arboretum, he “fell in love with the place.”

Since then, Broadfoot—owner and curator of the Boonton-based gallery Broadfoot & Broadfoot—has been working, despite setbacks due to the pandemic, to prepare for the sculpture trail’s grand opening festival, Sept. 18–19.

The trail will feature 15 sculptures by artists from all over the country. Thirty-foot cranes were used to install the pieces at Broadfoot’s direction throughout the arboretum. Three of the sculptures are by New Jersey–based artists: Sandalphon by Harry Gordon, of Lambertville; Oxidized Pod by Robert Koch, of Jersey City; and Morning Dialogue by Ulla Novina, of Woodcliff Lake.

The 30-plus-acre property was donated to Wayne Township in 1996 by its owners, John and Dororthy Knippenberg, following John’s death. The couple was known for hybridizing rhododendrons, with more than 500 species at the arboretum. Since 2003, the nonprofit Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum has overseen the arboretum in collaboration with the township.

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All of the sculptures on the trail will be for sale at prices ranging from $7,000–$185,000; a portion of the proceeds will go toward the arboretum for future projects, says Friends president Linda Ransom.

Broadfoot says he intentionally placed each piece so that visitors could immerse themselves in the natural setting.

“My sight-specific curation is really, really important, because [the art] interacts with the environment—the specific color I want you to see or the specific tree, and, once again, they work hand-in-hand. The environment enhances the work, and the work, I’m hoping, enhances the environment.”

Educational programs and audio tours via scannable QR codes will be available on-site.

Gordon’s piece, Sandalphon, has already been installed, but the artist says he “always likes to think that the sculpture is not really finished until people view it, until people experience it.” And that is the exact intent of the sculpture trail.

How to visit: 725 Pine Lakes Drive West, Wayne. Open daily, 8 am–dusk. Free.

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