Painting 90 Pittsburgh neighborhoods


Photo courtesy of Ron Donoughe
Painting the Mexican War Streets (above) has been one of Ron Donoughe’s favorites to paint thus far.

By Alyse Horn

Last summer Ron Donoughe, a Pittsburgh artist, decided to start a year-long journey around the 90 neighborhoods in the city and document what he saw through painting.

Donoughe, who has been painting since 1986, said he has done other long term projects of this kind where he immerses himself in an area, but chose this series simply because “Pittsburgh is what I love and where I live.”

So far Donoughe has completed 55 neighborhoods, with one of his favorites being of an alleyway in the Mexican War Streets in Central Northside.

On his blog, Donoughe explained the reason for choosing the alley for the painting was because “A lot of folks walk these tiny streets and I liked the extreme depth, not to mention the powerful shadow that framed the scene.”

Donoughe said the great part about doing these paintings is discovering areas he has never been to and exploring remote areas.

“I thought I knew Pittsburgh, but really I didn’t,” Donoughe said.

Along with beauty in unexpected places, Donoughe said interacting with the residents is a large part of the fun.

“One thing I’ve noticed wherever I go in Pittsburgh is that people are really proud of their neighborhoods and [the city] in general,” Donoughe said. “People are more than willing to help me try to figure out what to paint.”

One thing Donoughe admitted is that more paintings than he anticipated are featuring snow, which also makes for unfavorable painting conditions as he physically goes to each location to paint.

When Donoughe found the location he wanted to paint in Mount Washington, he had to hike down a hill with all of his painting gear in 15 degree weather. After two hours his toes and hands were numb.

“It’s been a brutal, tough winter,” Donoughe said. “I’ll be glad when the warmer weather is here.”

Once all 90 neighborhoods are complete, Donoughe said his goal is to have an exhibition at the Pittsburgh Center of the Arts. He said there is a chance the paintings will then be sold, but he wants to try and keep the lot together.

To view all of Donoughe’s paintings, click here.

Northside Chronicle Town Hall Subscription