“They were two people who didn’t seem to fit together. But the shy, determined Ann Weaver and the rich, gregarious Ralph Norton shared one thing – a passionate love of art. . . . A relationship slowly developed, one that was to forever alter the cultural landscape of Palm Beach County. After all, their names still grace two of the most unique institutions here – the Norton Museum of Art and the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens.” – The Palm Beach Post

Rendered in brick and granite, the monolithic works of art situated in Florida’s lush, native landscape create a mysterious and magical experience for visitors to the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. These sculptures – in the spirt of Stonehenge, Henry Moore, and Buddhist temple art – are known worldwide, and they are the crowning achievement of an artist whose work encapsulates and transcends the modernist movement.

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Monumental_Dreams_RGBMonumental Dreams: The Life and Sculpture of Ann Nortonby Caroline Seebohm is the first-ever biography of this remarkable artist who erected her finest and lasting work in West Palm Beach, on property left to her in the generous legacy of her late husband. Find out why the Palm Beach Daily News says “Her life is an inspiration for late-bloomers.

Ann Norton (1905-1982) started out Ann Weaver, an Alabama girl who eschewed her southern roots to become an artist, heading to New York City in the 1930s. She excelled in art school; her pieces were well-received and shown at MOMA, the Whitney, and in many other exhibitions. Despite this success, she struggled to make ends meet and headed to Florida in 1943 to take a teaching position at the Norton Gallery and School of Art. It was here that she met founder and retired Acme Steel president Ralph Hubbard Norton, who author Caroline Seebohm calls “her great piece of luck.” 

Over time, the two built a relationship based on common aesthetic values, one that eventually grew into companionship, partnership, and love. When their five-year marriage ended with his death in 1953, the generous legacy he left behind included the land that eventually became the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. Norton once indicated that the colossal monuments now standing there had existed clearly in her mind since she was a young girl. Without a space, home, or funds to recognize her vision, they would never have materialized.

Sculpture Gardens
The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. Gateway No. 5, 1977, handmade North Carolina Brick (20′ high). Photo by Jim Fairman.

Read the entire Palm Beach Post review here.

Read an interview with author Caroline Seebohm here. 

Seebohm, Caroline_credit Karen McLean PetersonCaroline Seebohm  is the author of several books including Under Live Oaks: The Last Great Houses of the Old South and Boca Rococo: How Addison Mizner Invented Florida’s Gold Coast. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Vogue, House & Garden (U.K.) and many other publications.

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