Deciding Not to Remove Sacred Larry’s Legs

Larry Rivers' "Legs" are cited in Sag Harbor
Larry Rivers' "Legs" are cited in Sag Harbor, Photo: Matt Benham

What’s white, 16.1 feet tall, female, sexy, on the lawn of a house in Sag Harbor and looking like it doesn’t know if it is coming or going?

Why, it’s Larry’s Legs, a sculpture originally made as part of a larger work by the late Larry Rivers of Southampton. It’s owned by Janet Lehr and her partner Vered, both of Vered Art Gallery in East Hampton, and it’s their house where the lawn and the sculpture are.

Many sculptural works adorn the lawns of homes in the Hamptons. It’s nothing new. However, in Sag Harbor about three years ago, when the building inspector couldn’t figure out which category it belonged in—accessory building, freestanding structure, fence, swimming pool or tennis courts, at which point he ran out of categories—he decided, rather than go to the Trustees and say we need a category called “art,” he instead began giving it ordinance violation notices. That has escalated into a legal action that could cost Sag Harbor and the gallery a lot of money. And it could go on for years.

I won’t go into detail here, but elsewhere on Madison Street, there are neighbors who object to looking out at it, (no law against what you look at, or providing pleasing things to look at) and there are other neighbors who say it’s “art,” leave it alone.

If this battle goes on and on, I think what will happen eventually is that Larry’s Legs will fall into the category of lovable outrageous old things that the group Save Sag Harbor fights mightily to save.

The big four-foot tall neon sign that reads SAG HARBOR above the entrance to the Sag Harbor Cinema right in the center of town, clearly an outrageous violation of SOMETHING, has come to the point where people will lay down in the road to see it does not leave. The same is true of the chubby windmill at the foot of Long Wharf. It’s not really a mill and was built too short to ever be one, but it’s the information booth for the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce since 1966 and is being defended to the death. Also being defended forever, I suspect, though nobody has attacked it, are the two mechanical horses in front of the Five and Ten where parents put in a quarter and put a kid on it to be rocked “dangerously” for 60 seconds. We’d lie down for that too.

I think we can save a lot of time and money if we put Larry’s Legs in this category now, instead of waiting for all the coming years of fuss. It’s going to happen anyway. Imagine that. The great Larry Rivers—he lived where? In Southampton? Well he was surely over to Sag Harbor to visit his friends. Why all this pain and suffering when we know how it is going to turn out?

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