Hartwick grad establishes scholarship for art lovers

Hartwick College recently announced a newly endowed scholarship to benefit students who qualify for merit – based grants and need – based financial assistance. The “Helen Rowan Endowed Scholarship for the Arts” award will be made annually to a Hartwick student.

When fully funded, the scholarship will reflect $250,000 in contributions by Marcus Rowan, class of 1984. Mr. Rowan is the youngest son of artist Helen Rowan and  Roy Rowan, author, former bureau chief at Life, foreign correspondent at Time, and senior writer at Fortune. Both are longtime residents of Greenwich. The scholarship will honor Ms. Rowan’s enduring passion for the arts. The recipient will be a female student who demonstrates significant merit as well as financial need, in addition to strong evidence of a love for and devotion to the arts.

Ms. Rowan has studied the arts throughout her lifetime, beginning when she was a student at Olivet College in Michigan. There she studied under the celebrated sculptor Milton Horn. Her first job was working as a picture researcher for Life magazine. It was there that she met her husband, who was then based in Germany for the magazine. While Mr. Rowan covered the Cold War, Ms. Rowan painted pictures of the German countryside. Wherever he was assigned in Asia and Europe, Ms. Rowan became interested in local artistic techniques.

Later, while the Rowan family lived abroad in Hong Kong, Ms. Rowan expanded her artistic skills with lessons in calligraphy and in painting of birds and flowers using delicate Chinese brush strokes. It wasn’t until her four sons were fully grown that Ms. Rowan found her true love in art: The Art of the Painted Finish. This finish is the Renaissance technique of painting furniture and other objects to look like they were made of marble, malachite, gold, ivory, and other materials — in essence, using paint to fool the eye.

As a graduate and later a teacher at the Isabel O’Neill School of the Painted Finish in New York City, Ms. Rowan became so expert in The Art of the Painted Finish that some of her pieces were auctioned at Sotheby’s and others were exhibited at Tiffany & Co. as well as the Flagler Museum.

Looking back at their family trips and time spent living abroad, Marcus Rowan said he owes his personal passion for arts and antiquities to his mother.

“Art was part and parcel to everything we did growing up; and it was always the spearhead of what my mother wanted us to experience,” Mr. Rowan said. “The greatest teacher in my life was — and still is — my mother.”

While a student at Hartwick, Marcus Rowan took several courses in the department of art and art history. Though he received his degree in history from Hartwick in 1984, he credits the arts with enabling his success as a student overall. The arts are still an integral part of the student experience which can be found throughout the college today. In 2012, Hartwick offered 283 courses in the arts, with 859 students enrolled in at least one of those courses.

“Ironically, my parents, while not getting their degrees from Hartwick, have always been avid and loyal fans of my alma mater,” shared Marcus Rowan. “Because of this, I wanted to do something special to honor both my mother and Hartwick College. Combining these factors with President Margaret Drugovich’s vision and passion for the school, I thought this gift would be best served at Hartwick where current and future students will benefit directly.”

For more information about the scholarship or the event, contact Carrie Rosengren in the Hartwick College Office of Alumni Relations at 607-431-4064 or [email protected]

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