Press-Republican

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October 7, 2013

Artful lives of service

PLATTSBURGH — The Edward and Bette Brohel Museum Without Walls has breathed into existence at SUNY Plattsburgh.

The couple, native New Yorkers, were honored by the college where Edward served 30 years as the director of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum and Bette worked 23 years in Continuing Education before transferring into Academic Advising and retiring in 2005.

"Both Edward and Bette have spent their lives in service to the college," President John Ettling said in a statement. "I can think of no more fitting tribute than to name the Museum Without Walls, which Ed created, in their honor."

IMMERSION

Edward learned everything he knows about art under the tutelage of gallerist Doris Meltzer.

“I had never really been immersed in what a full abstract painting was, what was the process, what was the artist after, the questions we are still asking today," he said. 

"She was very, very solid that way.”

He and Bette met while he was teaching at the Brooklyn Museum. A docent-in-training, she majored in art history and studio art at Fordham University at Lincoln Center.

“Because he was going for his master’s at that point, we were invited to take a class with him," she said. "He was a freebie. He would take us around to different museums. 

"And we all lusted after him.”

'INCREDIBLE EYE'

During his Meltzer stint, Edward didn’t particularly eat much but bought art, including his first purchase, a watercolor, “Two, Below the Moon,” by Madeleine Gekiere, a Swiss-born artist.

“She’s kind of into imaginative distortions that would tell a story but created characters that were recognizable,” he said. “Bette and I see that kind of as the two of us.”

“I’m the short, chubby one, but I’m not chubby anymore,” Bette said. “And Ed is the sleek one.”

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