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‘Celebrating The Familiar’

Lifelike sculptures make themselves right at home in McKee Botanical Garden

Seward Johnson is known for creating sculptures of ordinary people going about their day-to-day routine, just like this fellow reading the morning newspaper in “Inner World, Outer World.” At age 88, Johnson continues to create memorable and timeless works for the public to marvel at and enjoy.

Seward Johnson is known for creating sculptures of ordinary people going about their day-to-day routine, just like this fellow reading the morning newspaper in “Inner World, Outer World.” At age 88, Johnson continues to create memorable and timeless works for the public to marvel at and enjoy.

If McKee Botanical Garden isn’t already high on your list of favorite places to visit, it should be, especially now. Beginning the first weekend in January and running through the end of April, lifelike bronze sculptures can be found there, enjoying their lush tropical surroundings.

At first glance, a boy sitting by a pond, fishing pole in hand, a woman trying to keep her umbrella from flying away on a windy day, and a young man on a bench engrossed in a book all appear so real you’re tempted to walk over and start what would be a one-way conversation. It’s been known to happen.

Those sculptures and more are featured throughout the garden during McKee’s latest exhibition, “Celebrating the Familiar.” And what could be more familiar than the sight of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day in 1945? Titled “Embracing Peace,” the iconic sculpture, which stands larger than life at 25 feet, is the centerpiece of an exhibit sure to surprise and delight visitors of all ages.

We have American artist Seward Johnson to thank for his insight and inspired creativity. It’s not often an artist chooses to capture the simple, ordinary things that are part of everyone’s daily life, yet Johnson has made it his mission. More than 450 of his sculptures are featured in private collections and public displays around the world, and now, for four marvelous months, Vero Beach can be counted among them.