By Mike Bisceglia
Seacoast Scene, May 28, 2014
HAMPTON - "I don't look at it as retirement," Marilyn Rishkofski said about closing the door for the last time to the Art Experience. "I look at it as a commencement. In a way, I've graduated a number of times in my life. Each time, I've found that I had learned so many new things; made so many new friends, and helped to accomplish probably more than I thought possible. Each day became an amazing page in my life. I've always found each chapter leads to another, equally exciting . . . equally enriching."
Rishkofski, who hales from the coal mining region of western Pennsylvania, met and married her husband, Len, while at Wilkes University. Almost immediately, the couple began a family, yet Marilyn had a desire to be involved and to accomplish.
"I became involved in social work immediately after college," Rishhofski mused. "It was a good experience for me, because it enabled me to develop a passion to assist individuals and families in need. That was particularly true in troubled Salisbury, Maryland, in 1967, during the riots." People didn't have much, but lost what they had to arson and looting. In addition to my career, I had an art store. I slept in it at night, so that it wouldn't be torched."
"Len's position with Sears kept us on the move, and we lived in numerous places on the eastern seaboard. In each, I strove to become involved in community and church groups that were trying to make a difference. I suppose I have a passion for that sort of thing; I have never been one to accept status quo, when I know with a little effort, things could be so much better."
"I find it difficult to see myself as one-dimensional. I am a framer . . . I learned to do that by necessity, since I knew I was never going to make a fortune as an artist. I am a communicator, educator, businessperson, and organizer. Interestingly, I have found that all of the pieces seem to fit very well together. I guess I can say that my involvement keeps me balanced, and for me . . . that seems to work very well."
"Once Len and I moved to New Hampshire, we knew we had found our home. He was busy with stores in the Nashua region, and opened the Art Experience in the Bedford area. Years passed, and Len began work on the coast. It made sense to move to Hampton, but keep the Bedford store. After years of commuting, I did a wise thing by moving the store to downtown Hampton. The experience was truly like coming home! The two of us couldn't be happier."
"You might think that I should be slowing down, but I think I picked up speed as I've gone along. Since coming to Hampton, I've come into contact with very dynamic folks, and we began the Hampton Arts Network (HAN). The joy I've taken from my four-year experience as a founder and board member means so very much to me. HAN has and continues to accomplish so much . . . the Art Walk, Art In Bloom, the Juried Middle School Art Show, and the miniature golf fund-raiser for junior high school scholarships (at the Currier Museum, Manchester) are just some of the events I am proud to say I've helped to get off the ground. I delight in knowing that the community sees the necessity in art, and is truly working to become involved."
"What's next for me? Well, after I close the door for the last time here, I am confident I will not be sad. I don't have time for sadness, really. I'm going to be tutoring art. I also want create. Perhaps, having a few hours to myself during the day, will enable to put brush to canvas and see what happens. In addition, I will be able to devote some of my time to the local Rotarians. That organization is accomplishing so much. I just hope I can be of service to it. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the work I do with St. John's Episcopalian Church. I have a real passion for the cause of assisting women and children in need. That has become a true world-wide area of concern, and I want to stay actively involved in any way I can."
"And, yes, there's more. We have two children living in California, and one in Arkansas. Len and I have to have time to visit our children, and grandchildren. Oh, yes, very shortly, I about to become a great-grandmother. That will surely take up some of my time as well."
"Yes, I'll miss the Art Experience. I'll miss sharing coffee with friends on the couch, which, by the way, has recently been moved to Marelli's Market. I'll miss the next customer to walk in the door. And, I know I'll miss just being a part of the Hampton scene. I guess I'm graduating, and I can't wait so see what happens next!"