Battle Over Whether The Structure Is Indeed Art Engulfs Residents, Lawmakers

SAG HARBOR, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The village claims it’s a structure.

The artist claims it’s a sculpture.

A controversy is brewing in the Hamptons … over too much leg. And as CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, the legs may have to take a hike.

It’s flamboyant, irreverent and sassy. Female legs in retro stockings have been stepping out into controversy.

“When an artist does art, it is not a structure; it is a sculpture,” art dealer Ruth Vered said.

“We feel strongly about art in public places, art in residences,” Sag Harbor homeowner Janet Lehr said.

Vered and Lehr own the legs and share the historic 1840s home — a former church — smack in the middle of quaint Sag Harbor’s historic district, where the eye-catching naked legs are on permanent display just blocks from Main Street.

“The legs have become a monument in Sag Harbor. People say turn at the legs,” one resident said.

It stands 16 feet high and is made taller perched on a raised planter.

“If the legs are large it’s in proportion. The ruling was really ridiculous,” Lehr said.

After multiple hearings and debate the village ruled the legs a “structure,” whose size and location are not in compliance with code.

“This is not a decision about art. It’s about setting a precedent for building structures in a very small village on very small lots … about preserving the fabric of the village,” the village’s Zoning Board of Appeals said in a statement.

Sculptor Larry Rivers died in 2002, but not before creating the legs and a whole host of other headline-grabbing works. Many locals here – fishermen, artists and writers — have an opinion.

“How could this hurt anyone other than making the town have a little sense of humor, warmth and humanity? I think it’s crazy to take it down,” resident Christine Bellini said.

“People want a certain look for the town, for the village. It has that quaint whalers feeling to it,” Hope Marxe said.

The village wants the larger-than-life sculpture removed by Sunday. Vered and Lehr want the legs that go on and on to remain up and up, and are hiring a lawyer to continue their battle.

Rivers is buried in a Sag Harbor cemetery. His fans say Rivers would love to know that he still manages to “delight” and “offend,” even from the grave.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …

More From CBS New York

Download Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE