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Readers ID East Hampton ‘mystery’ bust artist

The mysterious sculpture of a woman was left

The mysterious sculpture of a woman was left on a fountain at the construction site of the children's wing of the East Hampton Public Library. Details of items contained in the Long Island History Collection at the East Hampton Public Library. (May 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

It’s still unclear how a life-size terra-cotta bust of a woman ended up at a construction site behind the East Hampton Library. But Newsday readers say there are enough clues to identify the artist who created it.

They say it is Nick Della Penna, now 72, who used to live in Babylon. He and his wife, Lorraine, moved to upstate Phoenicia a decade ago. The bust is inscribed: My Wife, Forever, Della Penna.

Natalie Picoe connected the artist with the bust; she used to date Della Penna’s son, and is familiar with his style of work.

Picoe said she learned about the mystery sculpture — it apparently was put behind the library last month after the building was closed — from a local cable news show she was watching while exercising on a stationary bicycle in her gym in Jersey City.

“It was the strangest thing,” she said. “I saw this news story come on .?.?. They talked about the bust at the library in East Hampton. They had a close-up, and something started clicking in my head. I thought, ‘That looks like Lorraine.’ My next thought was, ‘That looks like Nick’s work’ .?.?. Then I really noticed it was just signed Della Penna. I said, ‘Oh, my God, that is Nick’s sculpture.’”

Della Penna, who could not be reached Wednesday, has been creating a massive art work blending rock walls, tile and sculpture in a vast outdoor garden in Woodstock for the past 20 years.

Another reader, Alex Freitas, sent Newsday several pictures of the sculpture garden. “I wanted you to know that the bust used to be part of a stone meadow in Lake Hill in Woodstock, NY and was done by the same man — Nick Della Penna, 72 years old .?.?. ” he wrote.

News travels fast in East Hampton, and even a hint of the origin of the bust was worth pursuing.

Hugh King, the official Town Crier, said he was working on some leads. And Dennis Fabiszak, director of the East Hampton Library, made a call to the librarian in Woodstock, who knew of Della Penna and his work, and said she would try to get in touch with him.

“Someone may have stolen it,” Fabiszak said.
 

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