For 25 years artist Linda Scott’s iconic, 50-foot sculpture, “Stargazer,” has been a beloved unofficial welcome sign to the Hamptons for drivers heading east in Manorville. But, as many drivers have begun to notice, this treasured landmark is in desperate need of repair, and unless someone, or everyone, steps in to help, it could end up being one more fading memory of the bygone Hamptons.
This giant, red silhouette of a deer looking to the heavens and holding an antler in its mouth, with a cutout eye and one three-dimensional ear extending out and down to the ground, is an inspiring sight looming high over the trees and fields. It even inspired Dan’s Papers cover artist Gerry McCluskey Moran to paint it in a landscape called “Almost There,” which graces the front of this week’s (November 18, 2016) issue.
The woman who brought “Stargazer” into the world, Scott, died in July of 2015 after losing her battle with lung cancer at age 77. And upon her passing, the artist’s creation has slowly begun to die with her. A plan is in place to restore the sculpture to its former glory, but it’s going to take $100,000 and the help of the community to make it happen.
That effort is being led by Scott’s longtime partner, and the man who made her vision technically and physically possible 25 years ago, David Morris, and her son, Morgan Pitts, who works as a property master for film and television.
Morris, who was trained as a civil engineer, explains that “Stargazer” has fallen into such an ever-advancing state of disrepair that it will require a completely new wood frame and plywood “skin” over the existing steel frame and concrete substructure.
He says lightning hit the sculpture about a year ago, knocking a piece off the top, and allowing water to get inside. That water has sped up the deterioration of “Stargazer,” and caused the original acrylic stucco coating, which protects it from the elements, to delaminate.
“It’s amazing how [lightning] can just snap the two by fours right in half,” Morris says, noting that he did one quick patch since the sculpture was hit, but it’s now well beyond these kinds of repairs. He says “Stargazer” has actually held together much longer than expected, and it has needed an overhaul for some time.
“We built this thing to last six years, and it’s been up 25 years at least,” Morris adds, explaining that acrylic stucco has come a long way since they used it in 1991, and new materials will give “Stargazer” a much longer life once the restoration is complete.
“When I redo it, it will last 50 years at least,” Morris says, but it needs to be built right, and that costs money.
Once the funds are in place, Morris says a complete restoration could take about a month. Before taking anything apart, he would make a mockup of the existing sculpture to ensure all measurements are exact. “The most important thing is to keep the exact shape of the eye,” Morris adds, clearly conjuring his late partner’s fastidious artistic vision. He points out that one bad measurement could “throw it all off.”
Morris and Pitts are meeting this week to discuss fundraising plans for the project. While Morris has the drive and knowhow to restore “Stargazer,” he says Scott’s son is best suited to secure the necessary capital.
Pitts was overwhelmed with work in recent months, but his schedule has finally slowed down enough to begin moving forward with the job of keeping his mother’s greatest public legacy alive for future generations.
Now it’s all about letting people know a plan is in place and that they’re actively working to raise funds and meet the $100,000 goal.
Hampton Jitney has already donated and helped maintain “Stargazer” in the past, but Morris is hoping they’ll contribute again toward the new goal. He and Pitts seem confident that other businesses and members of the community will also chip in once word gets out. “If we get money from every major business, it wouldn’t be too hard,” Morris says, noting that he just needs 20 successful businesses to donate $5,000 each—but that’s just one of many ways to reach their magic number.
Learn more about Linda Scott, or donate to keep “Stargazer” standing, at lindascott.org.