Craigen Weston Bowen ’75
Reprinted from Harvard University
Art Museums Office of Communications.
Craigen Weston Bowen,
Deputy Director of the Straus Center for Conservation at
Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum
and an accomplished rock climber and gardener, died at her
home in Lexington, Mass., on March 1, 16 months after being
diagnosed with cancer. She was 54.
She was born Ruth Craigen Weston on November 10, 1953, the
daughter of Frederick W. Weston Jr. and the late Ruth L.
Weston, and spent her childhood in West Long Branch, N.J.,
and Rome, Maine. At Smith College, she double-majored in
Art and Astronomy, with a minor in Physics, and developed
into a talented lithographer. After graduating in 1975, she
began a three-year apprenticeship in the conservation laboratory
at the Fogg under Marjorie B. Cohn, specializing in the conservation
of works of art on paper. She later collaborated with Cohn
on scholarly projects. In 1978, Craigen moved to the Williamstown
Regional Conservation Laboratory at the Sterling and Francine
Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass., where she founded
the paper conservation laboratory. In 1980, she returned
to the Fogg. That same year, she married Mark S. Bowen, whose
family owns a home on the same lake in Maine as hers. Craigen
was the recipient of an Indo-U.S. Sub-commission grant to
travel to Kota, India, in 1987, and made several subsequent
trips there to treat and study the royal collections of H.H.
Maharao Brijraj Singh in the Rao Madho Singh Trust Museum.
In 1994, the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at
Harvard awarded her the Certificate of Distinction in Teaching.
This month, she was awarded the prestigious Sheldon and Caroline
Keck Award by the American Institute for Conservation, which
recognizes a sustained record of excellence in the education
and training of conservation professionals. At the time of
her death, in addition to her role as Deputy Director of
the laboratory, Craigen held an endowed position as Philip
and Lynn Straus Conservator of Works of Art on Paper at the
Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies. The
Craigen W. Bowen Fellowship was established in her honor
in 2007, to fund the further training of young conservation
and curatorial professionals who specialize in works on paper.
Craigen was a well-known and avid rock climber and mountaineer.
During her Harvard apprenticeship, she took the spring rock-climbing
program offered by the Appalachian Mountain Club, cutting
her teeth at small crags around Boston, such as the Quincy
Quarries, Rattlesnake Rocks, and Crow Hill. She became known
for her fierce determination and masterful technique, especially
with her feet. At that time women usually played a secondary
role to men in the ascent of difficult climbs, and there
were few all-women teams. She was among a handful of women
who broke that mold. In Yankee Rock and Ice by Laura
and Guy Waterman, the definitive history of climbing in the
northeast, she and her dear friend Beverly Boynton are cited
for climbing difficult routes “with authority and style.” (These
words might describe Craigen’s approach to all her
endeavors.) Over the course of nearly 30 years, she climbed
extensively in North America and Mexico with a core group
of friends and made lasting connections with many others.
She enjoyed all aspects of the sport: the climbing, the relaxed
days between, sitting in the sun, cooking great meals, sharing “war
stories” with friends, and even the dark nights huddled
in the rain on cold mountaintops or spectacularly high cliffs.
She was most proud of her ascents in the Bugaboo group in
British Columbia, Wyoming’s Wind River Range, and,
shortly before her 40th birthday, the multi-day, 3,000-foot
Salathe Wall, on Yosemite Valley’s El Capitan, which
has been called the most beautiful climb in the world.
Among her many interests and talents, Craigen was an imaginative
cook, expert skier and waterskier, prolific knitter, and
implacable organizer and taskmaster. She took great pleasure
in gardening, reading, and, later in life, learning to play
the piano. Her children, nieces, and nephews fondly remember
many summers in Maine under her tutelage, hauling brush,
moving rocks (some more than once), having the climbers up
for weekends, laughing, and playing cards.
Craigen is survived by her children, Andrew and Anna Bowen,
of Lexington and Arlington; her partner, James W. Evans,
of Watertown, Mass.; her father, Frederick W. Weston Jr.,
of Belgrade Lakes, Maine; her sister, Martha Weston Feldmann,
and her children, Hillary and Jeffrey Feldmann, of East Greenwich,
R.I.; her brother, Frederick W. Weston III, his wife, Karen
Lindstadt Weston, and their children, Rachel and Paul Weston,
of Waterbury, Vt.; dear friend and cousin Hillary Schultz
and her husband Peter, of Rome, Maine; friend and former
husband Mark S. Bowen, of Arlington, Mass.; and legions of
devoted cousins, colleagues, and friends.
A memorial service will
be held at 3 p.m. on March 22 in the Calderwood Courtyard
at the Fogg Art Museum on the campus of Harvard University.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Craigen’s
name may be made to: The Belgrade Regional Conservation
Alliance, P.O. Box 250, Belgrade Lakes, Maine 04918; Harvard
University Art Museums, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge, Mass. (for
the study centers at 32 Quincy St.); or the Landscape Committee,
PTSA, Lexington High School, 251 Waltham St., Lexington,