PLATTSBURGH — Marguerite Eisinger, on permanent holiday, is touring Spain and returns after a month-long sojourn in her native England.
She retired after almost a quarter century at Plattsburgh State. The Art Museum hosted a retirement reception for her, emceed by Will Ross, a Rockwell Kent scholar and Eisinger’s close friend, at the Valcour Boathouse.
Ross promised not to make her cry, but he did, as did several others who touted her many personal and professional achievements.
ARRIVED IN 1970
Flag Day was her last day, most fitting for the Brit made in America. She and her husband, the late Dr. Peter Eisinger, crossed the Atlantic in 1970. She began taking courses at the college six years later.
In her retirement speech, she wrote:
“Coming from England, which at the time boasted only three universities — Oxford, Cambridge and London — which I was never going to be bright enough to get into, it was my dream to go to university in America, and here was my opportunity!
“This then led to my going to Syracuse University for graduate studies, and partly the main draw there was that I spent two years, with my kids, in Florence, Italy, studying the Renaissance, right where it all happened.”
Dr. Douglas Skopp recalls Eisinger’s drive as a student.
“She was at that time energizing, thoughtful and committed to her studies and very much interested in art and art history,” said Skopp, distinguished university teaching professor of history, emeritus.
“My course was medieval history, and so many of those things overlapped. I tried to tailor my course to whoever was in my class. I knew she was interested in medieval English architecture. She wrote a paper, already sophisticated. I encouraged her to go to graduate study in Syracuse. The next thing I knew, she packed up her family, and they were in Italy. She had resourcefulness all throughout her career.”
LEADING THE DOCENTS
When Eisinger returned to Plattsburgh, she lectured in the Art Department. When the position of docent coordinator became vacant, she applied and was hired. There were a dozen or so docents at the college then. Now, there are 58.
“They help the museum in many different ways with volunteer work,” Eisinger said. “We traveled all over the place. It was a really good group of bright and intelligent people. Because they are retired, they were able to put their energies somewhere else.”
Eisinger harnessed their talents.
“She put people together who could help each other and serve the college’s interests with the art collection,” Skopp said.
“She was a force that drove it to its current level of excellence.”
LOVE OF KENT
One of the berets she wore was editor of the Kent Collector. Since her office was located in the Rockwell Kent Gallery, she gave impromptu lectures and tours about all things Kent.
A milestone was the millennial three-day symposium/exhibitions at the college, Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake and Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.
“We went from place to place,” Eisinger said. “The exhibition here in Plattsburgh was on Kent’s commercial work. The one at the Adirondack Museum was on his Adirondack work. The one in Stockbridge, ‘Distance Shores: The Odyssey of Rockwell Kent,’ was on his Greenland paintings. That was really big.”
Kent links Eisinger and Ross at the hip and heart.
“This is someone who knew nothing about Rockwell Kent or about editing a magazine, and she became an expert on Kent and edited a magazine, prepared two symposiums and ran the docents and helped turn that museum around, with the help of Ed Brohel and Cecilia Esposito, into a great, fantastic place,” said Ross, who lives in California.
For a decade, Eisinger also taught a film class in the Honors Program.
“I feel Plattsburgh State is my second home,” she said. “Even though I’m retiring, I’m not retired. I’m working on a whole different project under the direction of Ceil Esposito.”
“I’m really pleased that Marguerite will continue to work with us on the Nina Winkel Project,” said Esposito, museum director. “We will be publishing a catalogue on the life and work of Nina Winkel. That’s very exciting.”
Writing a book about the sculptor is a bucket-list item for Eisinger.
“Nina came to teach my class,” she said. “I used to pick her up in Keene Valley. She always wanted a book of her works published. I never forgot that.
“I think she has been unrecognized as a woman artist. I hope to put her on the map and try to get exhibits of her work around the country.”
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