First Case by J. Seward Johnson Jr. is a public sculpture located on the steps of an office building at 50 Main St. in downtown White Plains, a small city just north of NYC. Created out of bronze, it depicts a lawyer with furrowed brow examining his papers in last-minute preparation for a court case.
I came across the sculpture of my first-ever trip to White Plains [indeed, my first-ever foray into Westchester County at all]. I didn’t know what to expect, but the downtown seems sleepy and is filled mostly with generic architecture, so finding this example of public art was like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise desolate, uninspiring urban environment.
I love the tape recorder!
J. Seward Johnson Jr. is the grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I, co-founder of Johnson & Johnson. He started his career as a painter but then turned to life-size bronze trompe l’oeil sculpture, often depicting ordinary people in mundane situations.
A recent public art work of his is Forever Marilyn in Chicago, featuring Marilyn Monroe’s iconic pose over a subway grate in the film The Seven Year Itch. Aside from the fact that such a sculpture belongs in NYC [if anywhere], it has been used for inappropriate photo ops by tourists and is generally regarded as kitsch. By contrast, First Case enlivens an otherwise dull landscape in a way that I can definitely appreciate.