Conversation Piece: “Lunchbreak” by Seward Johnson
Take a seat next to this sculpture in Churchill Square.
By Steven Sandor | July 4, 2017
If you’ve been to Churchill Square, you may have been fooled by Seward Johnson’s “Lunchbreak.” The statue of a man taking, well, his lunch break isn’t set on a pedestal. No, the figure is sitting on a park bench – and, even though he’s as silver as a certain comic-book surfer, he can fool you into thinking that he’s a real guy taking five.
The piece has been downtown since 1983, and was sculpted and forged by famed American artist Seward Johnson. Johnson has a penchant for making sculptures of everyday people doing everyday things on park benches. Do a search for “Lunchbreak” and you will find other versions of this piece in Key West, Florida and Israel.
In San Francisco, you’ll find a Johnson sculpture of a woman on a park bench, reading a book. In Grapevine, Texas, you’ll find “Sidewalk Judge,” where a senior sits on a bench, leaning on a cane. In Trenton, New Jersey, there’s a sculpture of a man in a business suit passed out on a bench with a newspaper covering his face.
In that passed-out-on-a-bench statue, called “Between Appointments,” the newspaper in question features a story about Johnson’s late father, who had disowned his family after marrying his young maid. The kids contested their father’s will, worth close to $400 million USD. The children, including the sculptor, claimed the will was rewritten when their father was not of sound mind.
Johnson may be a common name, but the Johnson family in question here is the one featured on Band-Aids, baby shampoo and Tylenol. That’s right – Seward Johnson is an heir to the Johnson & Johnson empire.
The legal battle was settled before a judge could rule; the kids shared $40 million while the maid got the rest – but it was still massive tabloid fodder.