Seurat’s Paris Roots Grow in Columbus

© Larry Hamill

“The Topiary Park is a landscape of a painting of a landscape.  If an artist can paint a picture of a landscape — art mimicking nature — then why not a sculptor creating a landscape of a work of art — nature mimicking art?”

James T. Mason, sculptor and creator of the topiary interpretation of Georges Seurat’s painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.

Now part of  The Art Institute of Chicago’s collection, the 7′ x 10′ oil on canvas depicts dozens of Parisians enjoying a Sunday afternoon on an island park, situated in the Seine River near Paris.

Georges Seurat - "A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte"

As Impressionism began to color the salon set of Paris, Georges Seurat’s own interpretation of the latest artist movement would become know as Pointillism.  Based on contemporary optical theories of color relationships, Seurat’s brush technique systematically applied small amounts of paint to create depth, shadow and reflection.

Read more about the influence of color perception and the color theories adopted by  Neo-Impressionist painters.

Photograph used on The Topiary Park's promotional poster © Larry Hamill

The Topiary Park, situated on the site of the former Ohio School for the Deaf, has become renown for its interpretation of Seurat’s famous Post-Impressionist painting. Here, in this seven acre park, visitors can enjoy the unique experience of walking into and through a work of art.

© Larry Hamill

The park’s roots first took hold in James and Elaine Mason’s dream of a topiary garden of their own. Upon his wife’s request that he build a topiary sculpture in their backyard, James envisioned something greater – to reinterpret Georges Seurat’s most famous painting. Elaine shared his vision with the director of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, who embraced the concept.

© Larry Hamill

In 1988, James created the sculptural frames, forming the basis of the park’s design. His vision was fully realized in 1992 and today, his frames still coax the yew trees into their beautiful shapes, a sight to behold in any season.

© Larry Hamill

The Visitor’s Center, located in a gatehouse at the park’s Town Street entrance, offers educational materials as well as souvenirs.  Proceeds go toward the maintenance of the Topiary Park.

For information about volunteer opportunities, docent led tours and upcoming events, contact the Friends of the Topiary Park.


480 E. Town St., Columbus, OH 43215

Post written by Pamela J. Willits

7 responses to “Seurat’s Paris Roots Grow in Columbus

  1. Pingback: Positive News, Green Things, Microcredit and The Green Children

  2. Pingback: Leaf Beyond Belief: 11 Tree-mendous Examples Of Topiary Art : WebEcoist

  3. This is all great. But I wonder if Elaine Mason ever got her backyard topiary.

  4. Best pictures of the Topiary Garden ever!!

  5. I need to do a watercolor next winter in the garden! Thanks Larry!
    Eric Marlow

  6. You’ve inspired me to return for a walk in the park!

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