Art From Big Pink

Arlene Skutch was an important part of Westport’s arts community.

A classically trained professional singer, she performed in Broadway musicals like “Finian’s Rainbow” and “Of Thee I Sing.”

She married, had 2 children, and bought an 1876 saltbox Colonial at 244 Wilton Road. On her honeymoon in Cuba she’d loved the bright, colorful houses. So she painted her new house pink.

Arlene Skutch’s former house, 244 Wilton Road.

The property had an artist’s studio in the back, designed by celebrated architect Eliot Noyes. When her children started school, Arlene took painting classes at Silvermine.

In 1972 she opened her Wilton Road studio to students. A 4-decade career as a professional artist, art teacher and mentor followed.

She developed a devoted following of students. They called themselves “The Pink House Painters.”

Arlene died in 2012. Her life lives on though, in Martin West’s documentary “Years in the Making: A Journey Into Late Life Creativity.” (Notice she’s wearing pink!)

Her pink house lives on too.

At least, it has until now.

Word on the street — Wilton Road — is that the pink house is being painted.

Will the well-known, historic color survive? Or will it suffer the same fates as Westport’s other famed pink structure, Remarkable Book Shop?

Stay tuned.

10 responses to “Art From Big Pink

  1. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    As a nephew of a magazine illustrator of the “Golden Age” and one of the founding fathers of FAS in Westport it does my heart good to know the artist community still resides there..

  2. There’s only one Big Pink! Saugerties, NY.

  3. I am pleased that this 1876 Saltbox is being well cared for by its current owners, and not the subject of a proposed tear-down (which I was fearing as I read your post). As for the color, if the current owners want to return it to a historically correct color (or even if they want to paint it purple) that’s ok with (preservation minded) me, as long as they are keeping the home intact.

  4. Whatever color the new owners choose, I’m with Jack, at least the house isn’t going into the dumpster. For what it’s worth, I might consider leaving a very small patch of the siding pink in an out of the way place – just as a tip of the hat to the house’s cultural history. I’ve seen it done; it’s cool.

    As for the studio attributed to Noyes. That’s very interesting. Is the structure still there?

    • Yes. The studio has undergone a lovely renovation, as has the house.

      • Thanks so much, Evan. Westport, Weston and New Canaan seem to keep yielding up these hidden Modern treasures. Great to know the Noyes studio and antique dwelling are in loving hands.

  5. As a 45 year plus neighbor of this home and studio… I pray selfishly that it’s kept as is, regarding color… my nieces and nephews and friends know the landmark enabling easy directions… the studio is still standing…. my other input and is my understanding and background of the color… the owner previous to Mrs. Skutch spent their honeymoon in Bermuda and fell in love with the pastels, and a tribute and fondness painted the home pastel Bermuda Pink.

  6. Suzanne L. Wilson

    Another notable Westporter, Elizabeth Fuller (My Search for the Ghost of Flight 401) was among the Pink House Painters, or at least wrote an article about it.

  7. It is such a unique gem reflective of the character of Westport and puts a smile on my face every time I pass it. I commend the owners for stewarding an important piece of history. As Morley suggested, you could preserve a little piece of the pink somewhere fun and it would serve as fun piece of historic trivia.

  8. I meant to say ” the simpler Westport as I remember coming up to in the summers occasionally accompanied by my mother and father. Summer day seemed to last an eternity