Arthur L. Bowen
American, 1881 - 1916
Signed Art. Bowen, lower left; signed on reverse
Arthur “Art” Bowen was born in Sleepy Eye, MN in 1881, His family eventually moved to Minneapolis, where his father was a newspaper publisher. Bowen studied at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early 1900s. He worked as a cartoonist, first filling in for C.F. Batchelder’s panel cartoons in the Chicago Daily News. In 1905, Bowen produced his own strip called the “Spotty Twins” for the Chicago Daily News, and in 1911, he created “Spotlight Steve in Vaudeville”, also for the Chicago Daily News. He drew three other strips for the McClure Newspaper Syndicate in 1912, “Always Take Mother’s Advice”, “Bub--He’s Always to Blame” and “What Happens to the Herrings”. Bowen, simultaneously, had a career in vaudeville, combining his skills as a cartoonist and performer, calling his act a ‘chalk talk and musicale’. He was called the “Singing Cartoonist” on the notable Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit. He toured the country with his act. The Courier Newspaper, of Harrisburg, PA, gave his act the following review: “It is one accomplishment to be a cartoonist and another to be a vocalist, but Art Bowen, who is booked to appear on this week’s bill is both...He can draw more clever and laugh [sic] able things in about the fifteen minutes he is on view than most of his rivals and all the while entertains with his good baritone voice...” Unfortunately, Bowen suffered from what the Chicago Tribune called “despondency”. In 1916, he drank bichloride of mercury and was found unconscious on the floor of his Chicago rooming house. He was taken to a local hospital, but died there just over two weeks later. His family buried him back in Sleepy Eye, MN. His obituary claimed that he had been ill for two years.