Bowen, Betty, 1919-1977

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Betty Bowen was born Betty Cornelius in 1919 in Kent, Washington, and raised in Skagit County. After graduating from the University of Washington in 1940, she worked first as a reporter for the Seattle Times, then as women's editor at the Seattle Star . She subsequently did free-lance public relations work.

From the 1940s, Bowen was a prominent figure in the Seattle art world. In 1953, Dr. Richard Fuller hired Bowen to be public relations director for the Seattle Art Museum. He later appointed her assistant to the director. She served until Fuller's retirement in 1973. Bowen's colorful personality both contrasted with and complemented Fuller's more conservative temperament and energized the Seattle arts establishment. Bowen effectively used her considerable influence in the art world and with the media to promote her interest in local artists. She was an original member of the Municipal (later Seattle) Arts Commission and a founding member of the Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Center. Bowen was also active in Seattle's historic preservation movement. She was founder and chairperson of the Allied Arts Historic Conservation Committee of Seattle and served as a member of the Friends of the Market, which won designation of the Pike Place Market as a historic district.

Bowen's personal commitment to the well being of local artists was legendary, and she was known as "the den mother of the city's arts." She did not merely provide artists with valuable public exposure and introductions to wealthy art patrons. Her support often extended to feeding and clothing her artist friends during lean times. She befriended and nurtured painters Morris Graves (whom she first met as a teenager), Mark Tobey, Richard Gilkey and others of their generation, and later Charles Krafft and the writer Tom Robbins.

Betty Bowen was married to John Bowen, captain of a transoceanic cable-laying ship. She died in 1977. Since 1978, the Betty Bowen Memorial Award has been award by the Seattle Art Museum to emerging and established regional artists.

From the guide to the Betty Bowen Papers, 1920-1977, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Betty Bowen Papers, 1920-1977 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Allied Arts of Seattle records, 1954-2000 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
creatorOf Fuller, Richard E. (Richard Eugene), 1897-1976. Richard Eugene Fuller papers, 1898-1972. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allied Arts of Seattle, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Anderson, Guy,  1906- person
associatedWith Bassetti, Fred,  1917- person
associatedWith Brown, Gordon S.  (Gordon Summers) person
associatedWith Callahan, Kenneth,  1905- person
associatedWith Corley, Ward person
associatedWith Cumming, William person
associatedWith Fuller, Richard E. (Richard Eugene), 1897-1976. person
associatedWith Gilkey, Richard C.  (Richard Charles),  1925- person
associatedWith Gohs, Carl person
associatedWith Graves, Morris,  1910- person
associatedWith Hallsten, Pehr,  d. 1965 person
associatedWith Hauberg, Anne Gould person
associatedWith Krafft, Charles person
associatedWith Pacific Northwest Arts Center (Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith Pacific Northwest Arts Council (Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith PONCHO (Organization : Seattle, Wash.). Theatre corporateBody
associatedWith PONCHO (Organizaton : Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith Randlett, Mary person
associatedWith Robbins, Tom person
associatedWith Roethke, Beatrice person
associatedWith Ross, Nancy Wilson,  1901-1986 person
associatedWith Seattle Art Museum corporateBody
associatedWith Seattle Arts Commission corporateBody
associatedWith Seattle Historic Landmark and Compensation Task Force (Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith Seattle/King County American Revolution Bicentenntial Commission (Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith Staadecker, William B. person
associatedWith Sund, Robert,  1929- person
associatedWith Tobey, Mark person
associatedWith Wright, Clifford,  1919- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Art, American--Northwest, Pacific--20th century
Art, Modern--20th century
Artists--Northwest, Pacific
Artists--Washington (State)
Women public relations personnel--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
Art museums--Public relations--Washington (State)
Art museums--Washington (State)--Seattle
Women art patrons--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
Hospitals--Washington (State)
Historic sites--Washington (State)
Artists--Public relations--Washington (State)
Artists and patrons--Northwest, Pacific
Children--Hospitals--Washington (State)
Theater--Washington (State)--Seattle


Birth 1919

Death 1977



Ark ID: w6j42f1r

SNAC ID: 74524704