Carol Craven, the well-known art specialist and former longtime Vineyard gallery owner, died on Nov. 20 at her home in West Tisbury.

A knowledgeable collector and curator, Mrs. Craven owned and ran the Craven Gallery, first in Vineyard Haven and then in West Tisbury, for 16 years. She exhibited American expressionism and other modernists at her gallery, including works from artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, for whom she had a particular passion.

“Narrative painting is really my favorite thing, because I love stories,” she told the Gazette in an interview in 2009. “I’ve always loved the weaving and telling of the story. So I’m very much drawn to paintings that [have] figural things in them that are meant to be telling a story.”

She first got involved in gallery work in the early 1970s simply because she needed a job, she recalled in the interview.

“I had studied art history and I had studied painting when I was in college. But my true love was the narrative, being an actress,” she said. She found a compromise in the art world. “It became something that was a terrific fit for me. I liked it, it was exciting, it was fun. I loved working with emerging artists and helping artists to build careers.”

For many years Mrs. Craven and her husband Richard Craven divided their time between New York City and the 1830 farmhouse on Music street in West Tisbury that had belonged to Richard’s father Thomas Craven, a 20th century art critic who was friends with Benton.

In 1995, confident that the Vineyard art scene could sustain serious artwork, she opened her own gallery on the Island. “I could do exactly what I wanted. So to that end I’ve tried to pick the best artists I could find and exhibit their work,” she told the Gazette adding:

“I really want to impart my enthusiasm.”

Carol and Richard moved to the Vineyard full time from New York city in the late 1990s after he had been diagnosed with ALS.

Richard Craven died in 2001.

Mrs. Craven closed the gallery in 2011 but continued to work as an art consultant for private clients.

An obituary appears in the Gazette.