Manor artist exhibits at West Penn Hospital

Renatta Signorini
| Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2009

As long as someone looks at her work and smiles, Carroll Klingensmith is satisfied.

For most of September, the Manor Township painter will have 37 chances to bring happiness to anyone walking past her watercolor paintings.

"What is really cool is to have people go 'Wow,' " Klingensmith said. "It just makes you feel so good that you made somebody stop and look."

Klingensmith's work is being featured this month at a lobby open all hours in West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh. Paintings and note cards of her artwork are for sale. A percentage of the proceeds from the show will benefit the hospital's volunteer programs.

"We're happy to do it for them," she said. "If you can help, that's what life is about."

Vicki Nesta, director of volunteer services at West Penn, said artists display their work once a month at the hospital. Artists sign a contract with the hospital to show their work and then are placed on a three-year waiting list. If a purchase is made, it is usually a painting, she said.

"There's a lot of people that pass through the gallery every day," Nesta said.

Carroll, a Leechburg native, and her husband Clair Klingensmith hung 37 pieces of artwork Friday at the hospital's Millvale Avenue upper lobby. She learned of the exhibit from a friend and signed a contract with the hospital a few years ago.

A self-described "hobbyist," Klingensmith's work has won awards and been featured in local exhibitions and a coffee shop in Bradenton, Fla., where the couple has a home.

She has studied at various art centers in Florida and New York and with "nationally-known instructors."

"I study, I read a lot," she said.

And for other experiments, she just paints and if something doesn't turn out the way she wants -- "it was a learning experience," Klingensmith said, laughing.

She paints mostly animals and nature scenes, such as flowers or lighthouses. Klingensmith has been commissioned for certain pieces to paint a picture to match something in a customer's home, she said.

"Things that make you feel good," she said of the subjects of her paintings. "I try to teach my grandchildren to do some of these things, too."

Klingensmith's exposure to art as an adult began in 1976 when she experimented with many different mediums -- stained-glass, oils and watercolors. For the past decade, she has focused on watercolors and paints mainly in a studio in the Klingensmiths' Florida home.

"I think there's a creative element in you and it just nags at you," she said.

Klingensmith has won awards for some of her work, but to her, the competition isn't what is important -- it's the enjoyment she gets from her hobby.

"Whether you win a ribbon or not ... you get people's comments" to see how a painting made them feel, she said. "I like to make them feel good."

About the exhibit

Watercolor painting exhibition until Sept. 29

West Penn Hospital's Millvale Avenue entrance

Paintings and note cards will be available for purchase to benefit the hospital's volunteer programs

The hospital is located at 4800 Friendship Ave. in Pittsburgh. For details, call 412-578-5000 or visit

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