Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sad news


I've been waiting for an obituary, or some other freely accesible notice, but will have to settle for a 30 word mention in passing as a way to note that Louise Scott died last Wednesday. Alan Hustak wrote a very nice piece about her in Friday's Gazette
Talented, troubled artist
Battled alcoholism. Montrealer constantly undervalued her work
by ALAN HUSTAK, The Gazette
Published: Friday, February 09, 2007

Louise Scott, the sardonic Montreal artist and illustrator known for her paintings of saucer-eyed, moon-faced figures, died Wednesday at home in Notre Dame de Grace. She was 70. "She was an absolutely amazing but self-destructive artist, her own worst enemy," said Florence Millman, the director of the West End Gallery, which represented her for almost 40 years. "She was terrified of opening up and saying anything good about her own work. If she hadn't been an alcoholic, she would have been much more famous than she is."

Louise Scott was born in New York to Canadian parents on Nov. 28, 1936. Her father was an engineer, and she grew up in Ottawa and in Lockport, N.S. Her mother died when Louise was 18 and Scott never really recovered from the loss. Impressed by Betty Sutherland, a cousin who was a painter and married to poet Irving Layton, Scott moved to Montreal in 1956 and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Montreal. To support herself, she worked as an artist's model and as an apartment building janitor. Encouraged by Layton, she went to Austria in 1958 to study in Salzburg with expressionist painter Oskar Kokoshka. Scott's first solo exhibition was in 1965 at the Gallery Libre on Crescent St. At the time, art critic Michael Ballantyne described her work as "more than real and less than surreal.

"I have met these dark-eyed watchers somewhere before, Ballantyne wrote. "They are unnervingly composed in a sleek, scrupulously finished manner reminiscent of the early primitives ... so joyfully awkward and, thus, so endearing." Some critics see unconscious self-portraits in her works. Although her paintings hang in the National Gallery, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musee des Arts Contemporain, Scott was self-deprecating and constantly undervalued her worth as an artist. She rarely displayed any of her own paintings in her house. "I think success is so unimportant - success by other people's standards," she said in a 1977 interview. "We want everything and so tragically we get it. And then we realized that what it is we wanted wasn't very much at all." She stopped painting about five years ago.

"She was an incredible wit. She was an avid reader and had a wonderful use of words. She also had very little patience with pseudo-artists," longtime friend Amelia Casey said. "She certainly recognized which of her paintings were good, but I think she thought herself unworthy of praise. It was something very subtle in her character."

Scott was twice married and divorced. She is survived by her son, Frank, from her first marriage to Frank Hannibal. She also leaves a daughter, Hanna-Moria, from her relationship with Frank Riordan, and another son, John, whose father is the actor, Donald Sutherland. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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