Kickoff for Norton Gardens Conservancy

Frances Fisher, Paul Milsom and Cynthia Palmieri

Frances Fisher, Paul Milsom and Cynthia Palmieri

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Amid rare palms and the dramatic sculpture of Ann Norton, a new group dedicated to preserving the artist’s legacy kicked off its inaugural event.

“Sunset in the Gardens,” presented by the Gardens Conservancy, featured author Caroline Seebohm discussing her new book, “Monumental Dreams: The Life and Sculpture of Ann Norton.”

Cynthia Sulzberger and Steven Green

Cynthia Sulzberger and Steven Green

Frances Fisher, founding chairman of the Gardens Conservancy, hosted the private cocktail reception and discussion at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens.

The Gardens Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the gardens and presenting educational, horticultural and other cultural events.

In “Monumental Dreams,” Seebohm tells the story of how Ann Norton (née Weaver), a quiet and focused child of the South, left her native Alabama roots to become a sculptor in New York City. According to Seebohm, “she arrived in New York at the beginning of the Depression and she wanted to be a starving artist.”

Despite her burgeoning career, she found life difficult in New York. In search of paying work, she moved to West Palm Beach and in 1942 became the first sculpture instructor at the Norton Gallery and School of Art, founded by retired Acme Steel president Ralph Hubbard Norton.

Susan Keenan and Mieke VanWaveren

Susan Keenan and Mieke VanWaveren

Seebohm said that many of Ralph Norton’s most important pieces were purchased “under Ann’s brilliant guidance.”

The two began a relationship and married in 1948. After his death, she built her finest and most lasting work. Today, her monolithic sculptures—in the spirit of Stonehenge, Henry Moore and Buddhist temple art—can be seen just behind the gates at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens.

At the reception, Fisher thanked the “Guardians of the Gardens,” supporters who have been instrumental in the preservation and growth of the Gardens for the past 25 years. She also recognized Conservancy founding members including Carolyn Blitz, Lourdes Fanjul, Susan Keenan, Karyn Lamb, David Miller, Mary Mochary, Leslie Rose, Sally Soter and Cynthia Sultzberger for their vision and early support.

The private event April 8, 2014, was followed by a public program the next day.

Caroline Seebohm, Lane Byrd, Edith Haney

Caroline Seebohm, Lane Byrd and Edith Haney

Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Inc. is a nonprofit foundation established in 1977 by Norton (1905-1982). Located at 2051 South Flagler Drive, the 1.7-acre sanctuary is comprised of rare palm and sculpture gardens, Norton’s historic home and exhibition galleries and her own Wyeth-designed artist studio.

For more information, visit or call (561) 832-5238.

Photos by Lucien Capehart Photography.


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