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Personality test: Cynthia F. Cooley

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Cynthia Cooley in 2008 AIMEE OBIDZINSKI

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By Chris Ramirez
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:53 p.m.

Through her vivid paintings of steel-mill interiors and of Pittsburgh's hillside neighborhoods, Fox Chapel resident Cynthia F. Cooley has developed a reputation in Western Pennsylvania's growing arts scene as having a deep respect for the Mid-Atlantic's industrial river valleys.

Her affinity for bridges, hill-hugging rivers and all things steel comes out on her canvas.

She says she loves to explore urban landscapes, while emphasizing the geometric forms and textures found in hillside neighborhoods, city skylines and steel mills.

More than 1,860 of her works are in private collections, and 90 are in public and corporate collections, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania State Museum and the Senator John Heinz History Center.

She has had 47 individual exhibits, including at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., and, in 1989, she was named Artist of the Year at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

The star who would play me in the movie version of my life and why:

Meryl Streep. She can become anyone in her wide variety of roles.

The piece of memorabilia from my childhood I wish I still had.

My teddy bear

I can't live without my: iPod, cellphone, DVR or laptop?


Something I would do over if I could and why

I would not throw out my son's baseball cards. He's never forgiven me.

One word my mother would use to describe me:


Favorite lunchtime spot:

Carnegie Museum Cafe

The movie that always makes me cry:

“The Wizard of Oz”

When I was 10, I wanted to be:

A fashion designer

Pick one:

A. Pirates

B. Penguins

C. Steelers

D. Other

E. I hate sports

D. Other, WTA (Women's Tennis Association). Tennis is my favorite sport, and I love to play and watch matches in-person or on TV.

Top thing on my “Bucket List” to do before I'm gone:

Visit the new art museums being built all over the world

In five years, I'd like to:

Still be healthy and painting

Favorite guilty pleasure:

Butter-pecan ice cream

My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is:

All the steps in the hillside neighborhoods

Exercise I hate most:

I like to exercise, believe it or not.

Celebrity crush:

Robert Redford

Saturday mornings, you'll find me:

Playing tennis

Favorite Pittsburgh-area landmark:

Carrie Furnace in Braddock

Childhood hero and why:

Albert Schweitzer, because of his inspiring life as organist, theologian, doctor and medical missionary in Africa

The best concert I've ever seen:

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York

In high school, I was:

The artist for my senior yearbook

My most treasured fashion accessory is:

My mother's engagement ring

What you'll always find in my glove compartment:

Extra sunglasses

Favorite brunch food:


If I wasn't an artist, I'd be:

An art librarian

Movie I could watch every time it appears on cable:

“A Fish Called Wanda”

My first job:

Also, my worst job — summer typist in an unair-conditioned office. And, Minneapolis is hot in summer.

My favorite cable channel:

Comedy Central

The last book I read:

“The Oath” by Jeffrey Toobin

I never travel without my:


My favorite website:

Life would be better without:

Pro-life activists

The song that always gets me out on the dance floor and why:

“The Tide Is High”

I'm deathly afraid of:

Doberman pinschers

People would be surprised to know that I:

I've taken photos inside 10 steel mills and two coal mines.

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