POUND RIDGE, N.Y. – When Pound Ridge octogenarian Lisl Steiner stopped into Scotts Corners’ Plum Plums cheese shop she was struck by the simple beauty of one of the walls. “It was an ochre color and reminded me of Pompeii. I thought it would make a wonderful gallery wall, so I talked to the owners, Audrey and Adam Free, and I became the pro bono curator.”
So far, Steiner has organized more than a dozen exhibits, with more on the way. “I did one for handicapped artists and another one for fifth-grade art. Most people just go into the shop and look at the cheeses and never look up. Now they have something to look at.”
Steiner’s forthcoming exhibition is especially unusual. “It’s an international exhibit, tied into a project to introduce American cheeses to the people of Hamburg (Germany),” she explained. “The opening is going to be quite an event.”
Steiner contacted German artist Monika Gilsing, an internationally recognized graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist and creative director, who agreed to design a collection of shopping bags on a cheese-related theme. The opening will be in a few weeks.
If you have not personally met Steiner, you have probably seen her around. She has been living in Pound Ridge since her marriage to a “wonderful man who lived here,” back in 1970. She was born in Vienna (Austria), however, and in 1938 she accompanied her family to Buenos Aires, where she grew up.
While still in her teens, she began to study art under Ignazio Kaufman. When World War II ended, she got involved in the Argentine film industry. In the 1950s she began to travel the world, specializing in photojournalism. Her list of exhibitions is long and impressive, and includes the Leica Gallery and the Austrian National Library. Eventually she settled in the United States.
When Steiner writes emails, she often interjects “stop,” at the end of a thought, like an old-fashioned teletype message. It emphasizes the value of words. “I believe in elocution,” she said. “Today, people mumble. Look at Facebook. You don’t express yourself. You just ‘Like’ or ‘Unlike.'
“I’m a expert on elocution and I straighten everyone out. I go to all the town board meetings. They all mumble to each other.
“I teach children in three seconds how to shake hands. You take the hand and look the person in the eye. So many parents are afraid their kids will get germs shaking hands. But the more germs you get, the less you get sick.
“I have 10,000 theories,” she explained. “Just Google me.”