The religious past and the art-as-religion future have intersected within the walls of the Sag Harbor Church, with famed artists/activists April Gornik and Eric Fischl as the founders and Sara Cochran as executive director. The soaring Sag Harbor Church is home to 20 windows; the center of each a large square of glass; it is there, explains Fischl, where the “arts saints of Sag Harbor, the dead saints, will be canonized.” For more information about programs, visit sagharborchurch.org.
Dan’s Papers is spotlighting two windows a week, with Fischl’s lighthearted responses when asked the irreverent question, “What would this luminary be the patron saint of, besides Sag Harbor?”
Edgar (E.L.) Doctorow (1931–2015)
Fischl says: “E.L. Doctorow is our Saint for Writers of Literary Synthesis for his ability to write, without contradictions, the complex truth and falsity inherent in any retelling of our shared history.”
Edgar Lawrence Doctorow was born in the Bronx and named after Edgar Allen Poe by his second-generation Russian Jewish parents. His brilliant first novel, Welcome to Hard Times, was inspired by script reading, a job he took for a motion picture company after his military service ended.
Doctorow was then employed as an editor at the New American Library, where he worked with Ian Fleming and Ayn Rand, and later at Dial Press, working with James Baldwin, Norman Mailer and William Kennedy, among others. In 1969 he decided to pursue a writing career full time, and instantly won the highest possible praise for his fictionalized account of the Julian and Ethel Rosenberg trial and execution in The Book of Daniel.
He went on to write Ragtime, World’s Fair, Billy Bathgate and The March, winning countless awards and honors. Many of his novels were made into movies, and Ragtime into a Broadway musical. He taught at Yale, the University of Utah, UC Irvine and New York University.
Sag Harbor was a fond and largely summertime second home for Edgar and his wife Helen, a novelist and singer.
Elaine Stritch (1925 – 2014)
“Elaine Stritch is our Saint for all Performers who strive take all the oxygen out of a room with their breathtaking performances and not suffocate their audience,” Fischl says. “Brass would be her alloy both for the tone of her voice and the cut of her character.”
Elaine Stritch was a legendary American Broadway and TV actress and singer who had a home in Sag Harbor. She made her professional stage debut in 1944 and appeared in numerous stage plays, musicals, feature films and television series. She was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995.
She received four Tony Award nominations: for the William Inge play Bus Stop (1956), the Noël Coward musical Sail Away (1962), the Stephen Sondheim musical Company (1971) and for the revival of the Edward Albee play A Delicate Balance (1996).
Her one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty, won the 2002 Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. She starred in the British TV sitcom Two’s Company (1975–79), which earned her a 1979 BAFTA TV Award nomination. She won an Emmy Award in 1993 for her guest role on Law & Order and another for the 2004 television documentary of her one-woman show. From 2007 to 2012, she had a recurring role as Colleen Donaghy on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, for which she won a third Emmy in 2007.