Miriam Weest Scott
1923 – 2017
Miriam Weest grew up in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and changed her life by going off to Smith College. In those days, Smith wouldn’t allow her to major in studio art, so she studied art history, with a summer program in studio. The last time she went to Boston, it was to see an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art about Black Mountain College and the avant garde modernists who landed there after fleeing wartime Europe. “They were like gods to us!” She accelerated through college on a wartime schedule, graduating in 1945.
One of her best friends at Smith was Claire Nicolas, a daughter of Dutch artist Joep Nicolas who worked in various media, notably stained glass. Joep moved his family to New York when he got into trouble with the Nazis, and Miriam became his assistant after graduation. This involved her in a world of European artists clustered in New York during the 1940s. She became a photographer, and assisted a group of Belgians sent to study American architecture in preparation for rebuilding Belgium after the war. Out of this experience, she became the assistant to architect Hugo Van Kuyck in Antwerp, travelling in his party to Syria where he was commissioned to plan the rebuilding of Damascus. She went on to explore more of Europe, spending time especially in Rome still working as a photographer, before returning to New York at the end of the decade.
At this point she married her high school sweetheart Bob Scott, moved back to the suburbs of Philadelphia, and launched into the baby boom, contributing four infants in five years to the cause. Bob climbed his corporate ladder while she cooked, sewed, knitted, painted cookies with frosting as Christmas tree ornaments, and occasionally hauled us all off to play in a field while she painted a landscape with barn.
She started a small business around 1960, which she had to sell when Bob was transferred to Pittsburgh. This provided the wherewithal to take the children to France for a year, where we landed in the mountain village of Le Chambon sur Lignon, now famous for hiding Jewish children from the Nazis during the war. She continued to paint while we went to school.
After a year in Pittsburgh, Bob’s career moved us again, this time to England from 1966 until 1975, where Miriam continued to paint and to pay close attention to historic and contemporary art in London.
Returning to the States in 1975, Bob worked near Providence while Mother explored the territory looking for a place to live. They settled on Little Compton and she fell in love with the town. Initially trained by Dougie Whitmarsh, she became a respected real estate agent, establishing her own successful business within a few years. She enjoyed the people and the places, and her background in photography and art history enhanced her handsome and well researched appraisals. Landscapes around Little Compton inspired many of her later paintings.
For years she was a member of the Little Compton Garden Club, serving as secretary and creating beautiful gardens at her homes on Indian Hill Road and in the village, several times on tour. She and Bob were also members of the Little Compton golf club and Warren’s Point beach club.
Throughout her life she continued to study modern and contemporary art, and she painted until the last weeks of her life when she could no longer manage a brush. As her health declined she invited friends to visit the new gallery that she added to her studio in her 90s, the age at which she also added solar panels to her property. She fiercely defended her independence, and succeeded in living and dying at home, thanks to friends, family, and agencies especially including Stay-At-Home Little Compton. We are still framing her legacy.
Elizabeth “Libby” Scott Eustis