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Legs Put Windows on Hold

Posted on 02 July 2010

web legs

A request to allow Vered, also known as Ruth Vered, and Janet Lehr to replace rotted wood, broken windows and repaint the exterior of their home at 161 Madison Street, formerly the Bethel Baptist Church, evolved into a heated discussion about art at Monday’s Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) meeting.

Tom Horn Sr., one of just three board members at the meeting, announced he would abstain from voting in favor of the maintenance work because he didn’t care for a 15-foot sculpture of legs, by renowned artist Larry Rivers, which Vered and Lehr put up directly adjacent to the residence two years ago.

After hearing the details of the needed work at the property, the three sitting members of the board – chairman Cee Scott Brown, Diane Schiavoni and Horn appeared in favor of approving the application when Horn announced he would not vote. With board members Bethany Deyermond and Michael Mensch absent, even with the support of Brown and Schiavoni, any approval was at a stalemate.

“The only problem I have with this is those legs on the side of the house,” said Horn, who argued that Lehr and Vered promised the ARB when they restored and renovated the church that they would not hang artwork on the side of the house.

“I think it’s a separate issue,” said Schiavoni.

“This town is the most magnificent town and I love it,” said Vered, noting the sculpture was not a permanent fixture and can be removed.

“If it can be removed, I have no problem,” replied Horn.

“I think it adds to the character of the town,” said Vered. “It doesn’t hurt anyone.”

Vered added she believed that what was promised to the ARB was that the residence would not become a gallery.

“Larry Rivers is one of our famous artists,” she said. “We should be very proud to have this in our village.”

Brown suggested that Vered come back at the next meeting and try her hand with a full board or, if she chooses, remove the sculpture at issue.

The issue of the legs was first raised in June of 2008, when then-building inspector Al Daniels sent a letter to the couple informing them the sculpture was in violation of the village code in that it needed a building permit.

According to a memo issued by Sag Harbor Village Attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr. in 2008, any structure on a property, including artwork, is subject to a building permit and the New York State Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of municipalities on that very issue.

On Tuesday, Thiele confirmed that remains his legal opinion. According to files in the Village of Sag Harbor Building Department, a permit has never been issued for the Rivers sculpture.

In other ARB news, Susan Herman was approved to restore water-damaged portions of her home at 93 Suffolk Street and to restore windows, gutters and paint the exterior of the historic home. The board is allowing Herman to use Azek, a synthetic material not often approved for use in the historic district, on a piece of an arbor that connects to the house due to significant water damage in the area. Barbara Lawson, with Double Jay Reality, was also permitted to change the shape of an awning at their 83 Main Street location and David Alpern and Sylvia Clark were given permission to construct a pool and hot tub at their 91 Franklin Avenue abode. Lyle Pike and George Monticello were also approved, for a new awning for La Maison bistro at 16 Main Street.

Lastly, the former Black Buoy will no longer be black. Michael Cinque and Edward Burke, Jr. received permission from the board to paint the exterior of the Main Street building white for their new restaurant LT Burger.

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8 Responses to “Legs Put Windows on Hold”

  1. Art Lands says:

    Horn is being self important. The art is a seperate subject. Let them fix their home. I am sure we can all find lots wrong with Horn’s home. People who live in glass houses…..

  2. art for arts sake says:

    I agree with Art. I also think that even though the legs may be offensive to some, they offer an interesting appeal to the village streets. I think they are cool!!

  3. Susan says:


  4. Tim says:

    I don’t care who the artist is – there is a proper place for almost everything and those legs in the middle of the historic district look trashy. And since when do individual property owners have free reign to do anything they want on their property within the district ? I recall the Architectural Review Board giving someone a hard time for the lack of historically accurate hinges on their exterior shutters. Lots of folks are admonished for wanting to use less expensive ashpalt roof. Where is the consistency ?

  5. Art Lands says:

    It’s art and art is an expression of freedom. Like it or not I am proud to live in a place where people can freely express themselves through art. Building improvements’ are considered permanent and are governed for obvious reasons. I bet you don’t like music in the park either. Perhaps you would be more comfortable in repressed country.

  6. Tim says:

    Your funny, Art. I have no problem with music in the park but there is no connection bewteen that and reasonable guidelines governing structures in a Historic District. Also, not planning to leave the country anytime soon and I hope the act of expressing my opinion doesn’t caue you to want to expel me !

  7. susanne says:

    Poor Larry Rivers’ daughters. (Google Larry Rivers daughters and you might not be so impressed with the “great artist.” )

  8. bill baily says:

    Tim, wow, you seem bitter. I love,love,love Sag Harbor, been here most of my life but have you looked around your historic district lately? Check out the watch case factory and the house behind the library.Plenty of stuff falling down. You should be upset about that. Some people won’t fix up their homes because they are tired of the abuse they are put through by the “town wizards” just like these gals are experiencing. I had to hire a lawyer and go through months of nonsense akin to a kangaroo court just to change some very old windows. Cost me plenty in more ways than one. I don’t dare think about future improvements. There is plenty wrong and I don’t think the legs make the top 50.

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