Stargazer Is Back, Completely Restored and Rebuilt

Fully restored "Stargazer" in November 2022
Fully restored, Linda Scott’s “Stargazer”
Oliver Peterson

If there’s one thing East Enders can be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend, it’s seeing late artist Linda Scott’s iconic “Stargazer” sculpture returned to its former glory, just in time for the holidays.

The massive, 50-foot sculpture of a deer with a branch in its mouth — located at DeLalio Sod Farms in Manorville since 1991 — is finally as it should be after years of being held together with patches and repairs. While the monumental sculpture, which marks the gateway to the Hamptons for most drivers heading east from NYC, has come back from serious storm damage and decay over the last decade, this is the first time builder David Morris has given it a complete restoration that should last for many years.

Linda Scott's "Stargazer" restored in November 2022
“Stargazer” restoredOliver Peterson

He finished the job last Thursday, November 17, and it was no small feat.

“Everything that was there before except for the steel was taken off and redone, stripped down to the bare bones,” he says, describing the extent of work required to properly refurbish the beloved landmark. “It’s exactly the exact same shape. I painstakingly made it the exact same. Exactly. If you look at it you’ll see,” explains Morris, who was partners with Linda Scott and helped fabricate “Stargazer” according to her vision when it first went up more than 30 years ago.

After Scott died of cancer in 2015, Morris made it his mission to ensure her legacy lives on through the 50-foot sculpture.

First, he patched holes and repainted spots as damage occurred, but eventually the real work became about raising funds to fix it properly, while also setting things up so “Stargazer” will be cared for even after he’s gone — and thanks to a number of donors, including a few key players, Morris has done just that.

David Morris, Dr. Harvey Manes and John Whiteman at Linda Scott's Stargazer
L to R: David Morris, Dr. Harvey Manes and John WhitemanJoseph Palmisano

The Manes American Peace Prize Foundation, run by Lindenhurst orthopedic surgeon Dr. Harvey Manes, donated the bulk of necessary funds, to the tune of $100,000, last fall, and FLAG Art Foundation in Manhattan gave $50,000, all of which is managed and protected by a Brooklyn-based nonprofit called the Arete Living Arts Foundation. Additional pledges were given through lindascott.org and the “Stargazer” GoFundMe page.

Along with the monetary donations, Sherwin Williams gave paint, GO Solar donated lighting, and Morris says Ed Quiros of Stucco of the Hamptons was instrumental in getting the sculpture over the final hurdle this month by coating it with beautifully applied stucco, which has a relatively smooth surface that should keep the structure protected for years to come.

Morris says that they had to innovate beyond the sculpture’s original construction methods due to issues such as trapped moisture causing the wood to rot from the inside out.

“What I planned originally was doing it the exact same way, but the old way of doing the stucco is putting on a foam backer underneath and that failed — it was a new-age type thing like 30 years ago, and then they found out the condensation has lots of problems,” he says. “So we did it a new way with drain backer and everything. We actually did real stucco,” Morris continues, adding, “An acrylic stucco is the last coat, like a top coat. … That’s why it’s so expensive. It’s very complicated the way they did it, and they did a wonderful job.”

Work on "Stargazer" will resume in April
Work on “Stargazer” will resume in AprilColleen Peterson

Stucco of the Hamptons owner Ed Quiros says “Stargazer” is now designed with a layer of one-inch concrete stucco on wire mesh over drainage mat with two coats of flexible, rubberized material to seal it all in and protect from hairline crack as the sculpture expands and contracts or shifts in the wind.

Quiros points out that he did the original stucco on “Stargazer” back in 1991, and there have been many advancements in his trade since then. He says he wanted to be part of the restoration, partly for bragging rights and doing something for the community, but also because it was a unique challenge.

“Basically all the customers I’ve had over the years from Manhattan, New Jersey or whatever, they have properties out in the Hamptons, and they would use that monument as a landmark to say, ‘OK we’re here in the Hamptons,'” Quiros says, also noting, “I was very proud of being part of this project again. I was part of it when it was built (in 1991) and this time around as well. Hopefully this time it will last 100 years or more.”

Fully restored "Stargazer" in November 2022 with Stucco of the Hamptons sign
Fully restored “Stargazer” in November 2022 with Stucco of the Hamptons signOliver Peterson

“It’s finished. Finally completed,” Morris says giving special thanks to Harvey Manes, FLAG Art Foundation and Stucco of the Hamptons, who made it possible, remarking later, “It hasn’t been easy.”

Visit lindascott.org to learn more about Stargazer and the artist who made it, and to donate for future upkeep and stewardship of this unforgettable roadside icon.

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