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Penn Township artist's mixed-media show geared toward kids

Children often hear the words, “You can look, but don’t touch.”

That won’t be the case at the Penn Area Library when Cindy Gainer brings her art show “In the Flower Garden” to the library.

Not only will children be allowed to put their fingers on the work, but they won’t have to reach far to do that.

The 20 paintings created from acrylic paint, tissue paper and markers will be displayed on the eye level of young children.

That way they will clearly see the smiling butterfly, the wooly bear caterpillar, horses standing in the meadow and all the yellow hues of the happy sunflowers.

An award-winning author and illustrator, Gainer of Penn Township will be sharing the paintings she created from May to October of last year in the hopes of creating a traveling show to take to places where children can enjoy them such as hospitals and schools.

The show will run from Monday to April 12 in the multi-purpose room of Penn Area Library during normal library hours — 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

A reception will be held 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 2 in the multi-purpose room. At that time, Gainer will read from one of her books, play the guitar, do an art activity with children and talk to those who attend about her work.

Children’s librarian Pat Cappeta was delighted when Gainer visited the library recently to talk about the possibility of exhibiting her work there.

“The paintings are wonderful and bright, and I knew the children would love them, and it’s something we have not done in the library before,” Cappeta said.

When she learned that Gainer had so much more to offer the library than just her paintings, Cappeta said it was like hitting the jackpot.

“It’s so much in one package, and it’s so nice to have other creative people come into the library to offer things,” Cappeta said.

A graduate of Greensburg Central Catholic High School and Seton Hill University, Gainer’s career choices have all involved working with children. She’s taught in public schools and run a preschool. She currently teaches music to children in a daycare and owns a martial arts school where she and her husband, Bill Matrisch, work as instructors.

Gainer has authored and illustrated four books for children — “I’m Like You, You’re Like Me,” “Leader’s Guide to I’m Like You, You’re Like Me,” “MathArts” and “Good Earth Art.”

Her books have been published internationally and “Good Earth Art,” which she co-authored with MaryAnn F. Kohl, won the Ben Franklin Award, the Midwest Book Association award and the Parent Council Selection award.

Gainer said she lets her creativity lead her, but her heart is in painting and she always returns to the canvas. She shares the art studio in her home with son August Matrisch, who is a senior at Penn-Trafford High School.

She’s eager to share her work with children because in many ways Gainer feels she looks at the world herself through the eyes of a child.

“I think people who work with children never truly forget what it was like to be a child,” Gainer said. “They identify with what children would like, how to speak with them, how they see the world. So in order to work with children you can never be out of touch with that.”


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