New marble sculpture embraces community at Greenport’s Peconic Landing

Peconic Landing unveiled a new sculpture called “Embrace” in its “Art Without Barriers” sculpture garden on Monday. 

The wave-like structure was created as a monument to the idea of community, with input from an array of artists and experts on the North Fork. The 3,000-pound piece, measuring 10.5 feet wide by 5.5 feet high, was sculpted from Vermont Danby marble mined at the world’s largest underground quarry. 

“It literally gave us all goosebumps,” Dominic Antignano, cultural arts curator at Peconic Landing, said in a speech before the unveiling. “I realized at that point it was about the community, it’s solely about the community.” 

In keeping with the concept of community, the sculpture consists of two pieces of marble cemented together and carved to appear as if they’re many individual pieces — ”sort of like a mosaic” — acknowledging both individuality and the “common bond” that cements people together. A spiral in the center “pulls us in, urging us to stay connected with life and each other,” according to a Peconic Landing video about the sculpture. 

“The sculpture itself is a beautiful synthesis of ideas that embodies all of the energy of those that created it. A strong foundation created from building blocks that collectively intertwine, which makes a work of art,” the video states.. 

Peconic Landing president and CEO Robert Syron told The Suffolk Times the piece has been especially meaningful to him — especially after surviving more than a year in a pandemic — because it embodies “a sense of relief” that the Peconic Landing community “has withstood the challenges we faced and will continue on for a very long time.” He added that he nearly cried when the piece was installed. 

“The meaning is about collaboration and how many different types of people and personalities are here that make up our community,” Mr. Syron said. “That is how we all come together. That’s why it’s called ‘Embrace.’ ”

Mr. Antignano collaborated with Jonathan Tibett, co-founder of ABC Stone and founder of Precision Stone and The North American Sculpture Center, on developing the concept behind “Embrace” in late 2019. Mr. Tibett, a Southold resident, had approached Peconic Landing with an offer to donate a sculpture to their collection, prompting work on the sculpture to begin. Including the time it took to digitize the design, more than 300 hours were poured into its creation. The sculpture was made by Mr. Tibett’s team at Precision Stone, by both machine and hand. 

“During the last decades of our life, when we can feel vulnerable and isolated, the stone firmly anchored into the earth speaks to us of strength; the engraved spiral pulls us in, urging us to stay connected with life and each other,” contributing artist and Peconic Landing member Charlotte Lipfert wrote in a pamphlet distributed after Monday’s unveiling. 

The “Art Without Barriers” sculpture garden, which “Embrace” has now joined, is geared toward accessibility, with descriptive audio extending access to the visually impaired. After the formal unveiling, organizers invited attendees to touch the sculpture, which is textured on the side facing the street and smooth on the other. 

Linda Kirk of Port Jefferson attended the event with a group connected with the Suffolk Independent Living Organization. She examined the surface of “Embrace” with her fingers, sweeping her hand over the sculpture, and noted that the twining stones seem to comment on how the strength of individuals makes up the strength of community. 

“It’s lovely, it’s interesting to touch and following the lines around to kind of a spiral,” said Ms. Kirk, who is blind. She said she loves the grounds and sculptures at Peconic Landing, and comes “every time there’s been something here to observe.” 

Bernadette Pepin, a master gardener and Peconic Landing resident, has planned a path to improve the sculpture’s accessibility and a flower garden that will change with the seasons. She hopes the design will be implemented this fall. 

Other contributing artists and experts involved in creating “Embrace” include artist Claudia Ward, of Peconic Landing’s Board of Trustees; Patricia Lutzky, vice president of the facility; artists and Peconic Landing members Nancy Rollins and Ms. Lipfert; and Lisa Baglivi, a local artist and educator.