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Realistic sculptures sprout in historic downtown Plant City

Eight sculptures by J. Seward Johnson, including this one modeled after the iconic photograph taken at the end of World War II, will dot downtown at least through July.

The Sculpture Foundation

Eight sculptures by J. Seward Johnson, including this one modeled after the iconic photograph taken at the end of World War II, will dot downtown at least through July.

PLANT CITY — Take a seat on the bench next to the Sidewalk Judge.

He's one of eight life-sized sculptures that dot Plant City's historic downtown, an exhibit on loan through July.

The Plant City Photo Archives & History Center will unveil the "Man on the Street" collection at 11 a.m. today at the Union Station Welcome Center, 102 N Palmer St.

Just look for the iconic sailor smooching a nurse, a sculpture created from the 1945 photograph of a Times Square celebration at the end of World War II.

The ceremony will feature speaker Harrison Covington, a sculptor and former fine arts dean at the University of South Florida.

Created by New Jersey artist J. Seward Johnson, the sculpture collection came to Plant City through a $10,000 historic preservation grant from Hillsborough County. Plant City chipped in a $5,000 community redevelopment grant, and the Arts Council of Plant City sponsored a sculpture for $1,000.

Also included in the exhibit: A farmer holding a pitchfork alongside his daughter, a likeness of the famous American Gothic painting.

Volunteers positioned the eight 700-pound sculptures around McCall Park. Maps will be available at Union Station and the Plant City Photo Archives & History Center.

Photo Archives executive director Gil Gott said he hopes to extend the exhibit through August for the Republican National Convention.

The on-loan sculptures coincide with a visiting Smithsonian exhibit, "Journey Stories," at the Photo Archives starting May 26.

Stephanie Wang, Times staff writer

"My art is an imitation of life. (The sculptures) do many things: They can warm up ... a park or a public space, and they invite people to come into that space so that they don't feel quite alone. They also make good neighbors; they don't make a lot of noise."

J. Seward Johnson

Realistic sculptures sprout in historic downtown Plant City 05/03/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 3, 2012 4:30am]
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