Park Pleasant residents display doggie portraits

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Gensler points to a dog portrait. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

The nine portraits of a pug, German shepherd, beagle, and six other dogs painted in hues of purple, brown, and orange, decorate the walls inside the Gold Standard Café.

The canines are all from the Chester Avenue Dog Park. Their images appear in the Park Pleasant Nursing Home's art show which opened on Monday in the café at 4800 Baltimore Avenue. The show, on display until at least Aug. 19, is open to the public.

The artists are nursing home residents.

Three years ago, Donald Gensler, artist and former University of Pennsylvania mural arts professor, started a photography club with the Park Pleasant residents. The club morphed into a painting class, Gensler said.

When creating the portraits, the residents take a picture and Gensler draws it in paint-by-numbers format for the budding artists to fill in.

The nursing home's last show was self-portraits. Marie Kinnard, 98, a resident who is legally blind, managed to paint her self-portrait, also done in paint-by-numbers format. Her portrait of the beagle for this summer's show took almost a year for her to accomplish.

"I love it... It makes me feel welcome," she said, of her painting. There were times when Kinnard was frustrated and wanted to resign from the club, but Gensler and other residents encouraged her to stay. "They wouldn't let me quit," Kinnard said.