Little or nothing has been written about LongHouse Reserve in The Sag Harbor Express, though I know many in our town have been greatly concerned about the loss of this community treasure.
The sad saga of LongHouse Reserve after the death of founder Jack Larsen has been going on since last September. The creator, Jack Larsen, died in December 2020, and less than a year later the LongHouse board began taking the garden conservatory down a path of apparent destruction, fragmentation and disintegration.
In September they fired director Matko Tomicic, who had worked for 25-plus years with Jack Larsen, the renowned textile designer, on creating a beautiful place, a spiritual place to visit and enjoy for the garden, living with art, and various cultural and educational events.
Now one of the very last remaining of Jack’s original staff, Wendy Van Deusen, the curator for LongHouse, has resigned, as have several board members and several committee members.
A large group of friends and donors have joined together to protest the changes and what they see as malfeasance and dereliction of duty by the board members. They are withholding further donations and future bequests.
Artists are removing their sculptures, and the archival fabrics Wendy oversaw (in addition to Jack’s collection) have been reclaimed, apparently for safe-keeping, by the fabric company who lent them. The New York Attorney General Charities Division has been notified and, as far as I know, is investigating.
These board members — Co-Chairs Dianne Benson and Nina Gillman, and members including Ayse Kenmore, Alexandra Munroe, Mark Levine, James Zejac, Susie Slesin, and Jack’s former partner, Peter Olsen, and others — have taken the legacy in a sudden change of direction and seemingly have not paid any attention to their duty as board members, nor to the ongoing security and well-being of the organization. They have been called upon to resign and have not done so.
LongHouse Reserve, in true peril, needs to get back on track soon before losing even more community support.
One fine body…