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Springs home of artist Jackson Pollock limits visitors after complaint

The East End home of the abstract artist attracted as many as 350 visitors a day last year but is now limited to three tours of no more than 12 people each, officials said.

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in Pollock's studio

Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner in Pollock's studio in 1949. Photo Credit: Lawrence Larkin

The Springs home that belonged to abstract artist Jackson Pollock — an international destination for art enthusiasts and the set of the 2000 film "Pollock" — has restricted the number of visitors after a neighbor’s complaint about traffic congestion and parking conditions.

The 1.5-acre property contains a small shingle-sided home overlooking Accabonac Creek and the paint-covered studio where Pollack created some of his iconic works. He lived there until his death in 1956. His wife, artist Lee Krasner, continued to live there until she died in 1984.

Pollock, the leader of the abstract expressionist movement of the 1940s and 50s, pioneered his “spontaneous paint pouring” technique at his Springs home, using turkey basters and other methods to spread paint on canvas. It is filled with the couple’s furniture and personal items such as Krasner’s surviving spider plant.

The Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, which is operated by the Stony Brook Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising agency of Stony Brook University, attracted hundreds of visitors per day to the Springs Fireplace Road site. A record 350 people visited the home one day last year, center director Helen Harrison said.

Springs resident Martin Drew had complained publicly, and in emails to news organizations and town officials, about congestion in the residential neighborhood, where most visitors park along the road’s shoulder.

Drew said the center was operating outside the limits of its site plan, originally approved by the town planning board in 1991. Organizers of the center indicated in their original application the property would only accommodate two groups of five per day, five days per week.

Under a new agreement with East Hampton Town, the Pollock-Krasner House is limiting visitors to three daily tours of 12 people each Thursdays through Saturday. The site was previously open the same days from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. with no limits on the number of people. Reservations will now be required.

The town "wants the historic story of the location shared with the public, but has significant concerns about the traffic congestion and safe parking conditions that result from the expanded use of the premises,” reads a letter from East Hampton Town attorney Michael Sendlenski to Harrison confirming the agreement that went into effect Aug. 1.

“All I was asking was to stop parking on our public right of ways,” Drew said. “They’ve been operating out of their use status for 28 years.”

 Sendlenski declined to say if Drew’s comments prompted to the town act.

The new rules mean the site will likely have to turn visitors away, cutting into the center’s roughly $300,000 annual budget, Harrison said. The Stony Brook Foundation, which owns the property, provides $185,000 and the rest is made up through admissions which is $10 for adults and $5 for children, gift shop sales, grants and other sources. 

Springs Citizen Advisory Committee chairwoman Loring Bolger said it was regrettable that access to the cultural instition had to be limited, but added the traffic situation was dangerous.

"People may not be happy with this solution, but they understand something had to be done," Bolger said.

The studio drew a record 9,996 people during the 2017 season and was on pace to attract even more in 2018, Harrison said.

Fewer visitors has one benefit for the site, where guests are asked to put on booties before stepping on the paint-splattered studio floor.

“It will cut down on the wear and tear of the property and will preserve the studio,” Harrison said.


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