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Ann Scoville

by Joseph Montebello

Entering the foyer of artist Ann Scoville’s extraordinary house one is overwhelmed by the beauty of her work. First there is the group of performers from the Russian circus -- a series of massive steel sculptures, including a weightlifter replete with barbell. The series is tucked under the stairs leading to the upper floors. Black metal stark against the white walls. Walk further into the living room and through the massive window one sees the group of dancers, gleaming steel and white paint, placed strategically around the glorious rectangular pool. And we haven’t even got to her paintings yet.

Ann Scoville grew up in Norfolk, Connecticut. Her mother was an English actress and her father was the well-known American novelist Philip Curtiss. Even as a child, she was always drawing and painting.

“When I was in school I’d always do drawings of friends and other students. I even used to hire children in the neighborhood to come and sit for me,” Scoville said.

Her father encouraged her artistic bent and arranged for her to study with his friend, noted artist Guy Pène du Bois, an early 20th century American painter. She eventually took painting classes in New York as well. Picasso was the painter she most admired and there is a similarity in their paintings: the haunting faces, the simplicity of the lines.

Scoville, who has been widowed for several years, spent much of her married life in Mclean, Virginia, and took art classes at Washington University. It was there that she also learned how to work in metal. And, of course, since she had a strong background in figure drawing and painting, it was an easy segue to sculpting pieces of iron into the human from. Although it is hard to imagine this small woman wielding huge piece of metal.

“Actually, it’s quite easy,” she explained. “I have a very strong vise in my studio. I cut the metal to the size I want and then get it into the vise. I then heat it and bend it into the shape I want. I remember being so excited when the Russian Circus visited Washington and I went several times to sketch out the performers. So many shapes and sizes and they all reside quite nicely there in my hallway – a proud moment for me.”

Scoville’s work is represented by Ellen Rand’s Art 101 Gallery in Willimasburg and she has had numerous shows regionally at The Hotchkiss School, the Norfolk Library, Noble Horizons in Salisbury, and at Chesterwood, sculptor Daniel Chester French’s historic home in Stockbridge, Mass.

We wish to thank photographer, Don Perdue. All images © Don Perdue.