Jerry Shore, Sculptor
CNPHS Historic Recognition Program
Making a Dream a Reality
by Ross Lumpkin, Trustee
Valley Road veers north off Harbor Road for about four blocks and morphs into Avenue C. In pre-colonial times, it was part of a Matinecock native American path between what is now Sands Point and the Mill Pond. It evolved into a dirt road that early settlers used to take their produce to the old red mill to be processed. In the nineteenth century, it was known as Hicksville Road after the farmer who built his homestead and barn on the west side of the road.
Everything changes, and in today’s busy world, Valley Road is one of Port’s many cut-throughs with an odd mix of homes, autobody shops, and warehouses. If you traveled this way not so long ago, you would have been surprised to see a collection of large scale, geometric metal designs - often in vivid reds, blues, or yellows - on display in front of the warehouse at number #19.
It was the home of Shore Sculpture. Upon retirement in 1996 at the age of 70, Jerry Shore converted the warehouse into a studio to pursue his life-long dream to be a professional sculptor. He worked there until his death in 2014.
Whatever your feelings about modern art, its unlikely presence would catch you off guard. It was his way of breaking up our humdrum lives, inviting us to stop and think and maybe ask a few questions…
Jerry’s life was a life worth remembering and knowing more about; not only because of the unique contribution he made to Port Washington, but because of how he channeled his creative drive: as a successful entrepreneur, a courageous artist, and a beloved family patriarch.
In 1954 he co-founded Park Electronics and served as its CEO until his retirement in 1996. Today, Park Electronics is a multi-national company on the New York Stock Exchange with more than 500 employees.
Thanks to a thriving business, he was able to settle his growing family in Sands Point in the 1960s. He and his wife Cecile raised three children. They were his priority.
Even with his dream on the backburner, his creative impulses were very much alive. “He was always making something in his studio/workshop,” recalls his daughter Robin. “ My father was a jack of all trades, a fix-it guy, a problem solver. He was always finding creative ways to resolve problems - be it in his business life or fixing a broken refrigerator. He spent a lot of time looking at art - galleries and museums were always on the agenda. He was an avid viewer - loving and learning from seeing others’ artwork.”
Although #19 is now just another warehouse on Valley Road, you can see some of his work at the Bay Walk in Port Washington North and at the Village Club in Sands Point.
Three Sculptures by Jerry Shore
The Bay Walk Park in Port Washington North is the most ambitious public project on our peninsula in a long time. The driving force behind its conception, its design, its funding, and its construction is the town’s mayor Robert Weitzner.
In his role as curator, looking for works by local artists whose work reflected Port’s culture and history, the mayor met Jerry Stone in his studio on Valley Road.
He found and acquired a perfect fit in SNOWBIRDS. The sculpture resonates with one of the great pleasures of living in Port Washington: taking a walk along Manhasset Bay in the evening. In Autumn or Spring, you can hear the sound of migrating birds call out for attention, and look up up to see them flying in formation.
As proud as the mayor was to give SNOWBIRDS a place on the Bay Walk, he was likewise distressed a few years later in early 2014 to find that someone vandalized it, tearing one of the six birds from the sculpture. It isn’t the sort of crime that is easily solved, but what made it truly mysterious is that the sculpture was anonymously restored shortly thereafter.
I have discovered who made the repairs. At first, I thought I would let it be, and speak of the mystery on one of the Historical Society’s Magical History Tours, for it would go well with another mystery nearby. Out in the bay, another anonymous citizen of Manorhaven planted an American flag on a mound of rocks to remember the victims of 9/11.
But to reveal the secret will reveal something important about Jerry Shore, his family, and closure. Jerry died on May 19, 2014. His daughter Robin told me: “My brother Peter and I are the two people who repaired the vandalized piece… We saw it as an honor to repair the piece for my father who had already died at that point”.
Jerry told Mayor Wietzner that he was inspired to make this piece when he saw some sailboats in the bay whose white sails had turned red in the sunset.
Robin Shore said of her father: “He was not afraid to fail. He never avoided something due to fear. He approached his sculpture work this way as well. He wasn’t afraid of using color, of critics’ opinions, of trying something new, of messing up a piece he was working on - he was always open to the endless possibilities in anything he attempted. Being an artist can be a vulnerable and revealing profession, but my father did not worry about others’ opinions. He was determined to be free in his studio,”
HO/80 was a gift that Jerry gave to one of his best friends, Howard Olian on his 80th birthday. Howard and his wife JoAnne kept it outside their home until Howard ‘s death in 2007. JoAnne sold the house, moved to Manhattan, and donated the sculpture to the Sands Point Village Club with Jerry’s permission.
HO/80 seems perfectly placed in its new location on the lawn that stretches down from the Village Club mansion to Hempstead Harbor. As you circle around HO/80, it directs your attention out to the world around you; the view across the Hempstead Harbor to Sea Cliff, the sloping landscape, the mansion on the hill, and the sky above.