Living Columns & Blogs

Hilton Head ‘pit-bull’ an artist, activist and very gracious host

Artist and gallery owner Mira Scott of Hilton Head Island works on a piece of artwork.
Artist and gallery owner Mira Scott of Hilton Head Island works on a piece of artwork. Submitted

Industrious, efficient and organized are not terms usually identified with artists.

However, Mira Scott does not fit easily into any category or label when it comes to her professional endeavors. Nor is she easily intimidated in civic affairs, as demonstrated most recently by appealing to the Town of Hilton Head Island on issues including public parking in the Forest Beach area near Coligny and gathering like-minded citizens to create an Office of Cultural Affairs, which will help organize and promote the prolific arts community of Hilton Head.

Scott opened Picture This framing and art gallery in 1986. She recently moved from her longtime location on Arrow Road to 26 Palmetto Bay Road. An islander since 1978, she is an artist in her own right, selling her canvases, as well as her partner, Mark Tierney’s, photographs. She also sells a range of works by area and regional artists, including handmade jewelry and, of course, a framing business featuring an enormous collection of frames.

All of her artists receive a gracious opening for their exhibits, including champagne and hors doeuvres. The public is always invited, which makes for a lovely social evening. Indeed, Scott’s openings are where I’ve met so many other artists, local business people and council members.

Recently, Mira’s work has branched into adult coloring books, a relatively new niche, that has gained momentum nationwide. Using her own art as templates for the designs, Mira sells books, as well as single pages with coloring pencils. Guests to the island and residents have taken to this hobby as a way to reduce stress while being creative.

An enduring figure locally, Mira’s activism is ingrained.

“I come by it (activism) honestly. Both my parents were activists in Quebec,” she said.

Her mother was Polish and was smuggled out of her country during the war. Her father was French-Canadian and was often confronted by colleagues for speaking French.

“They taught me to always question and challenge authority,” she said, acknowledging that crusading can get exhausting. “I’ve learned to acknowledge what I can control, which is the 3 square feet around me, and includes my voice.”

And woe to the person who obstructs those 3 square feet. Like a pit-bull, once Mira gets her teeth into something, she doesn’t let go until it’s lying in shreds at Town Hall, each sentence of a contentious bill or proposal picked clean to the bare bones, so that whatever remains, is perfectly phrased or simply no longer exists.

Nonpartisan in her politics, Mira supports the person who most closely reflects her ideals in government, whether on the local or national stage. Insisting that one should vote for one’s passion, she also maintains that it’s even more important to show up and be counted. Apparently, sitting on one’s duff and complaining about the state of things doesn’t cut it with Ms. Scott.

And if her career and activism don’t keep her busy enough, Scott has also turned her home into a vacation rental with Airbnb, a company that rents everything from single bedrooms in a home, to private yacht staterooms, to guest suites, all over the world.

“We’ve had guests stay with us from Denmark, China, Australia, South Korea, France, Germany and the UK,” she says.

Does she cook them breakfast on her way to the studio and the Town Hall meetings?

“Sometimes. I usually ask them the day before if they would like muffins, juice or coffee.”

Of course she does. That’s Mira.

If you would like to find out more about the Office of Cultural Affairs, and the detailed results of the arts and cultural exploratory phase, you can check out the Arts and Cultural Strategic Planning final report on the Township website here.

Carmen Hawkins De Cecco lives on Hilton Head Island. She blogs at hiltonheadblogangel.me. Email her at carmenhawk@hargray.com.

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