Last month, DansPapers.com published an article about the impending doom of Linda Scott’s “Stargazer”—the iconic red sculpture of a deer holding an antler in its mouth off 111 in Manorville. The 50-foot sculpture was deteriorating quickly and, it seemed, no one was doing anything about it. But now “Stargazer” is back in shape, and its future looks bright thanks to the efforts of its steward and a number of donors who have stepped up to help keep this beloved piece of art around for the next half century.
David Morris, the engineer who fabricated “Stargazer” according to his partner Linda Scott’s vision in 1991, has kept the sculpture patched up and presentable since Scott died of lung cancer in 2015. His efforts have been costly, daunting and, Morris explains, an inevitably losing battle unless the entire structure is overhauled with a new wood frame, plywood siding and updated waterproof acrylic stucco coating over the original steel frame and concrete substructure. And to do it right, that will cost in the realm of $100,000.
Thankfully, East End residents and visitors believe in the project, and now more than any time since Scott’s death, the fate of “Stargazer” is colored by optimism instead of darkness or uncertainty. Significant donations are coming in, and Morris has finally secured a vehicle to accept tax-deductible contributions as a 501c3 not-for-profit.
To get the ball rolling, Ben Black and Jarred Kessler of EasyKnock—a real estate company that uses technology to offer an alternative to traditional buying and selling—made a strong donation that allowed Morris to repair “Stargazer.” Additionally, Anthony Leo of Leo’s Electric provided a cherry-picker truck to get Morris up high enough to do the work.
Anyone passing the sculpture now can see the transformation—the holes are filled, exposed beams covered, and the red exterior once again appears seamless. EasyKnock gave “Stargazer” its dignity back for the busy summer season, and bought Morris time while he seeks funding to secure Scott’s legacy for another 50 years at least.
“The piece itself has become symbolic of the area and therefore was the perfect project,” Kessler and Black said in an email, noting that they were looking for a way to give back to their Long Island market base. “It’s known to many as the gateway to the Hamptons,” they point out, calling their donation an “effort to improve [our] little corner of the world.”
To help with fundraising, Morris recently enlisted the Arete Living Arts Foundation, which is dedicated to creating art and promoting artists that “inspire personal, political or spiritual awakening.” Living Arts’ funds a number of worthy projects, offering their 501c3 non-profit status to ensure donations are tax deductible while also giving donors a sense of security about how their money will be spent. Morris says he’s working with Living Arts to create a GoFundMe page which will accept donations while allowing donors to see funding efforts progress toward their final goal.
Among the most recent donors, including author Taylor Plimpton, Sagaponack philanthropist Barbara Slifka put the Stargazer Restoration Project on rock-solid footing with a large sum covering about 25 percent of the necessary funds. To name just a few of her many positions and good works, Slifka serves on the boards of the Parrish Art Museum, Guggenheim Museum and Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF), and is a longtime contributor to the Peconic Land Trust, where she is part of the Trustees Council.
“I’ve always loved that statue…I felt terrible that it was falling apart.” Slifka said. “You see it when you arrive and when you leave,” she continued, comparing “Stargazer” to the Sag Harbor Cinema, which is also raising funds for restoration. “There are certain things people [out here] love and are used to,” Slifka added, acknowledging that, like the cinema, “Stargazer” is an icon that would be sorely missed if no one steps up to save it. “People don’t realize that you look for it.”