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Seniors at Plum retirement facility tap into artistic potential

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Shirley Elinsky sits in the lobby area in the Wellness Center at Longwood at Oakmont on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, where she has an exhibit of her work on display. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Mary Groggel, Bob Schiltz, Edith McElfish and Louise Menges, Longwood at Oakmont residents, discuss their work on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. The group gets together regularly to work on their art and share ideas. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Marvin Fields works on building a frame for his work on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. Fields joins residents at Longwood at Oakmont for their regular get-together to work on their art and share ideas. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
(c) 2012 Lillian DeDomenic
Gloria and Mort Hersh, Longwood at Oakmont residents, discuss their art on Friday, Feb. 15, 2013. They are part of a group that gets together regularly to work on their art and share ideas. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader

Louise Menges' father always appreciated and cultivated his daughter's artistic talent.

“When I was 8 or 9 years old, my father sent me to classes to learn the (art) mediums,” said Menges, 90, a resident at Longwood at Oakmont retirement community in Plum. “It is a gift.”

Menges has continued drawing and painting throughout her life and is one of about 25 residents at Longwood at Oakmont who gather twice a week to work on projects and interact with each other.

“The art group at Longwood truly is a mixture of experience,” said Shirley Elinsky, resident and art committee co-chairperson. “Some in the group haven't picked up a paint brush since they were a child. Others haven't had any previous experience. We love the opportunity to socialize with others who share the same interest and continue to express our love of art.”

The workshops consist of a mix of beginners to professional artists including Gloria Goldsmith Hersch, whose paintings can be found locally in the H.J. Heinz World Headquarters in Pittsburgh, and Menges, a former art teacher.

Each month, the resident artists have an opportunity to showcase their artwork in Longwood at Oakmont's Art Gallery located in the lobby of the wellness center. The gallery this month is featuring Elinsky's art work.

Some members also participate in area gallery shows, submit their artwork for competitions and attend local art classes.

Elinsky began painting in 1992 after she retired from EQT Corp. in Pittsburgh.

“I was always interested, but didn't have the time,” Elinsky said.

Elinsky said she enjoys drawing and painting a variety of subjects including animals.

“All her critters have personality,” said Edith McElfish, 85, who also attends the workshop.

Bob Schultz, 87, said his former profession as an engineer encouraged his artistic talent. Schultz enjoys painting outdoor scenes and buildings.

“Some people ask, ‘What is it?' about paintings,” Schultz said. “I like people to ask, ‘Where is it?'”

Goldsmith Hersch said painting also is good for those who have memory problems.

“It pulls them back into their world when they are losing their mental capacity,” Goldsmith Hersch said. “They can relate to the paintings. It's like looking at old family photos. Art is so therapeutic.”

Menges works on art projects with residents at Woodside at Longwood, the memory care center at Longwood at Oakmont.

“It is something for them to do, and it helps stimulate their minds — and mine too,” she said, with a smile.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or

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