Jan. 19, 1940 – Sept. 3, 2015
Priscilla D. Bowen, an accomplished artist, teacher, and well-known figure in the Elmwood Village, died Thursday in her Buffalo home. She was 75.
The cause was cancer, according to Mrs. Bowen’s daughter, Nicole Bowen.
Mrs. Bowen was born in Niagara Falls, grew up in Bergholtz and graduated from Niagara Falls High School. She attended Buffalo State College, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in art education.
She taught art at Public School 22 and the Park School, as well as to female prisoners in the Erie County Holding Center and the mentally disabled through a program at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. She also worked in the exhibits department of the medical technology company Mennen Medical, in the Hertel Avenue shop New Buffalo Graphics, and for local interior landscaping firm Botanicus.
Mrs. Bowen’s work was inspired by nature and spanned many media, including drawing, painting, enamel and collage. She was an active member of the Buffalo Society of Artists and exhibited in Art Dialogue Gallery, Pausa Art House, the Kenan Center, Eminent Design, Area Artists’ Collection, the Albright-Knox and the Chautauqua Art Association. She was an artist-in-residence at Artpark in Lewiston in 1976 and 1978. Her work is in many public and private collections, including Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
“My connection to and love for Western New York is lifelong,” Mrs. Bowen said in a letter to Burchfield Penney Art Center curator Scott Propeack in 2012. During her education at Buffalo State, she added, “I fell in love with the city and with the work, writings, and thinking of Charles Burchfield. Still here and lovin’ it all 57 years later.”
Mrs. Bowen was an active presence in the Elmwood Village, where she was an early member of the Lexington Avenue Co-op in the 1970s. She volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, the American Civil Liberties Union, and at the Burchfield Penney. She also consistently donated blood to the Red Cross.
“She truly cared about and was interested in every single person she met, from the waitress to the postman to the guy that picked up her bottles in a shopping cart,” Nicole Bowen recalled. “She just had such a big heart.”
Members of Buffalo’s arts community remembered Mrs. Bowen as a vital presence with an insatiable curiosity about art.
“Her enthusiasm for art was huge,” Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center curator John Massier wrote in a Facebook post Friday. “I’m pretty sure she came to see every Hallwalls exhibition, given how frequently I saw her here … Priscilla was intrigued and enthused by all the art she saw, taking it for what it was and treating it with requisite joy and wonder.”
Mrs. Bowen’s husband of 41 years, Merrill Bowen Jr., died in 2003. Survivors in addition to her daughter include a son, Chad; and two sisters, Karen Stoelting and Nancy Stuckwisch.
A celebration of her life will be held at a later date.