“Stargazer,” late artist Linda Scott‘s 50-foot red sculpture of a deer holding an antler in its mouth off 111 in Manorville, has been a sort of unofficial welcome sign to the Hamptons for the past 25 years, but anyone passing it these days will have seen that it’s in terrible shape. With massive holes, peeling paint and pieces of its plywood exterior hanging broken, the beloved artwork is on the verge of total ruin, and once again, its stewards are asking for help to bring it back.
Scott’s longtime partner and the man who fabricated “Stargazer,” David Morris, says he’s kept his lost love’s sculpture in presentable condition over the years since she died of lung cancer at 77 in 2015, but the time, effort and expense to continue patching it is putting a strain on his life and wallet. Not long ago, Morris spent $1,200 of his own money, plus his labor, to spot fix some areas of the sculpture, and it’s already a mess again.
The sculpture really needs a complete overhaul that would make it “look 1,000 times better” and keep it alive for another 50 years or more, Morris explains. But that would require a new wood frame and plywood “skin” with an updated waterproof acrylic stucco coating over the existing steel frame and concrete substructure—at a cost of $50,000–$100,000, and “People are really slow donating.”
So, with no money coming in, and wet weather that’s made it difficult to do any more patch jobs, “Stargazer” is deteriorating at an exponential pace. It’s getting worse and worse as more holes open and more water gets in, but Morris is holding on to hope that allowing people to see what’s happening might just motivate them to help do something about it.
Even if he does decide to patch it—because it’s unlikely Morris would let his partner’s greatest legacy fall into the ground without a fight—he says, “I really need like three to four days of sun to work on it.” When the wood is wet, or even damp, the adhesives he uses won’t work, and so far the sun isn’t cooperating. Morris would love to at the very least have it preserved and looking good for Memorial Day, and then take the summer to gather donations for a full restoration.
It does seem that the sculpture’s poor condition is attracting some attention from people who’d like to help. Last month, Mary Ganzenmuller reached out to DansPapers.com in search of information about donating to restore “Stargazer.” She even suggested that she would consider doing a matching donation challenge through a small charitable trust for which she is trustee, but the “Stargazer” project would need non-profit status and a guarantee that 100% of funds given would go to Stargazer’s restoration. “We would also need to know how much is needed for repair and for long-term maintenance, so it doesn’t deteriorate like this again,” Ganzenmuller said.
According to Morris, Scott’s son, Morgan Pitts, is expecting to attain 501c3 status for the “Stargazer” restoration in the next couple weeks, and the two men plan on starting a GoFundMe page, which crowd sources donations online. A local restaurant recently showed interest in hosting some kind of benefit as well, but nothing sounds concrete at this point.
For now, it seems “Stargazer” remains in deep trouble, but if the sculpture’s stewards and the community really step up and do what needs to be done—attaining 501c3 status and donating the necessary funds—this monumental local icon may yet live for generations to come.
Visit lindascott.org to donate, and learn more about Linda Scott and Stargazer.