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Obituary: Louise Evans Scott / Sculptor, painter and fashion model

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

By Patricia Lowry, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Louise Evans Scott raised her children in the big, rambling, secluded house she grew up in, the one her father built at the top of Negley Hill. She raised herself out back, under the garage, in a basement studio with a brick fireplace and a marble patio enclosed by a wrought iron balustrade and surrounded by trees.

It was in that dream Squirrel Hill studio that she and her husband, the late Dr. James Scott, built for her in the mid-1950s that she began to make a name for herself as a sculptor and painter.

Her first one-woman show, at Pennsylvania College for Women -- now Chatham College -- in 1954, won critical acclaim in Pittsburgh newspapers.

"A handsome and startling show of rich red abstracts and sculpture carved from rare and attractive wood," wrote Douglas Naylor in The Pittsburgh Press.

Her sculptures and paintings "have a bulk and solidity that are purposeful and convincing, if not always pleasing," wrote Dorothy Kantner in the Sun-Telegraph. "Her colors are raw and powerful and used to delineate broad areas. She builds her paintings as she does her sculpture, heavily, broadly and powerfully."

Mrs. Scott, of Squirrel Hill, died in her sleep Sunday of congestive heart failure. She was 92.

In the 1920s, her father, the prominent Pittsburgh attorney Henry Oliver Evans, and her mother, the former Louise Straub, sent her to Miss Porter's School in Connecticut. Back in Pittsburgh, she studied sculpture at Carnegie Institute of Technology, and, after graduating in 1936, moved to London, where she studied under Henry Moore -- an influence that could be seen decades later in her work.

"Everyone was so scared to death of him," she recalled in a 1961 Pittsburgh Press story, "but he liked me because I made good coffee."

As a painter, her subjects included Pittsburgh bridges, steel mills and construction sites, Southampton, N.Y., beach scenes, and the shops and citizens of Mexico. Around 1971, she did a series of large still lifes of vegetables.

"She liked to work with the bright, vivid colors and size seemed to help her," said her son, James Scott, of Squirrel Hill, who took college art classes to be able to talk with her about her work.

His mother's parties, he said, "were fantastic. The variety of people that would pass through our home was just wonderful. All the great artists of Pittsburgh were good friends of hers. It was a real show if you were a young person like myself."

With her striking features, silver hair and trim figure, Mrs. Scott had a parallel career as a runway fashion model in shows staged by Kaufmann's Vendome shops from the late 1940s to the 1960s.

"She carried herself like a model and could make an old smock look good," her son said. She wore designer threads on the runway, but preferred to dress in the comfy, casual clothes of an artist.

"Fashion Model Wins Place in Art World," a Pittsburgh Press story trumpeted in 1958. She made headlines again in 1963 with her marriage to sculptor Henry Bursztynowicz, following her divorce from Dr. Scott. The two artists also later divorced.

As a member of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, Mrs. Scott received three jury awards in the 1950s and more in 1961, and also was a frequent exhibitor with the Society of Sculptors. She was a past member of the Twentieth Century Club, Longue Vue Club and Daughters of the American Revolution.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Scott is survived by a daughter, Louise Moore, of Aiken, S.C., five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

There is no visitation. A memorial service will be held today at 4 p.m. in the chapel of H. Samson Funeral Home, 537 N. Neville St., Oakland. Interment at Homewood Cemetery will be private.

Patricia Lowry can be reached at plowry@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1590.

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