ELLIOTT A. BROOKS
Fisherman - Artist
Elliott A. Brooks (1888– 1949) was born in Orient and came from a line of seafarers. He and his two brothers, Richard and Frank, were all successful fishermen. (One wall of the Fishing exhibition just down the hall features the Brooks brothers). As well as being a fisherman, Elliott Brooks was also a sculptor and painter. He was very much a self-taught artist, although it is said that as a young man he had received a few weeks instruction at the Art Student’s League in New York.
His first efforts as an artist were a series of relief sculptures carved on the huge granite boulders left by the receding glaciers on the Sound shore between Orient Village and the Point. These are not easily accessible owing to the tides. An article in the December, 1947 issue of the Long Island Forum quotes Brooks: “I tried chiseling out some figures and, being a great lover of Indian lore, conceived the idea of leaving a monument to the vanished Poquatucks by carving out the head of a chieftain. This was done with ordinary chisels and took considerable time as it had to be done in odd hours when I was not busy at my regular work. There are about 25 sculptures of various subjects scattered along the beach for about two hundred yards, one of them being a polar bear sitting on a block of ice. Some of the subjects took two or three months to complete, working a few hours at a time.”
During the last decade or so of his life, he turned to painting. He writes: “As with the carving, my painting has to be done at odd moments, but it is a great hobby and has brought me many hours of keen enjoyment.” There are fifteen paintings in the exhibition, mostly scenes of Orient and East Marion with one of Greenport. Although none is dated, most were probably painted in the 1940s. George R. Latham, one of the founders of the Oysterponds Historical Society, bought a large number of Brooks paintings, had a special case made for them, and generously donated them to the Society. They have rarely been on view and we are pleased to be able to exhibit them now.
A sample from the exhibition