Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 5:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 5:26 p.m.
Beverly Rowe was an accomplished Monte Rio oil painter who maintained her life's calling through side jobs and simple living and cultivated a tight group of friends and fellow artists along the Russian River. Rowe died Nov. 20 after a short battle with cancer. She was 78.
Rowe, who went by “Bev,” worked in a wide range of styles, from landscapes and figures to abstract scenes. Her work was not widely successful, but it attracted many local buyers and was displayed in galleries and art shows.
She was influenced by the painters Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Richard Diebenkorn, and according to friends was known for her sense of color and richly textured landscapes.
She especially enjoyed plein air painting and looked on the Russian River and surrounding country as a frequent muse.
“The river was a gorgeous place for her,” said friend Elisa Baker of Forestville.
Raised in Northridge, the Los Angeles suburb, Rowe pursued art through a series of sojourns that started after high school and included some formal training at the Art Center School in Los Angeles.
She moved to New York City and to Europe for a year and lived up and down California, staying in the countercultural hotspot of Big Sur, in the tiny Sacramento River delta town of Locke and on the Marin County coast.
She relied on short-term jobs to pay for extended periods of painting.
“Work six months, then quit and paint. Work six months, then quit and paint,” she said in a 1997 interview with the Russian River Times, recalling her strategy.
Much of the work tapped her drawing skills, including a stint as technical illustrator for Douglas Aircraft Co., the former Long Beach aerospace manufacturer.
“She was never caught up in a 40-hour work week,” said Baker. “She was determined to paint.”
Rowe moved from San Francisco to Monte Rio in 1981, buying a former boat house on Church Street and converting it into a home and studio.
She welcomed fellow artists for workshops and developed a tight circle of friends who cared for her when she fell ill.
They described her as a frank, strong-willed woman with liberal politics and an abiding love for solitude when she needed it, a party when called for, and always the company of a dog.
Her friends threw her a party two weeks before her passing, and Rosie, her latest canine companion, was at her side when she died.
“She was really glad we had the party and was able to see everybody,” said Baker. “She had been with us for a long time on the river.”
A memorial will be held at her Monte Rio studio at 1 p.m. Dec. 9. Donations may be made to the ArtQuest program at Santa Rosa High School.
— Brett Wilkison
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