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Brownsville to Braddock

Paintings and Observations of the Monongahela River Valley

Ron Donoughe


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The Monongahela River Valley in Southwestern Pennsylvania is steeped with a rich industrial history. Starting with iron, brass, tin, and glass production, the river towns—from Brownsville to Braddock—ultimately helped make Pittsburgh the one-time steelmaking capital of the world. With this industrial legacy in mind, artist Ron Donoughe set out to document the small towns in this region, one painting at a time. Over a twelve-month period, he explored the forgotten towns of Brownsville, California, Donora, Charleroi, Monessen, Monongahela, Clairton, Duquesne, McKeesport, Braddock, and the Monongahela River itself. Brownsville to Braddock provides key insight on a forty-mile stretch of river towns. The post-industrial economy led to a decline in manufacturing, and with it, substantial job losses. These towns face many significant challenges, yet there is still beauty to be found. Donoughe finds it as he paints the human spirit through the mills, factories, parks, and homes. The people he meets share their stories of family joy and sorrows, along with a genuine love for the area they call the “Mon Valley.”

Praise For Brownsville to Braddock: Paintings and Observations of the Monongahela River Valley

“[In] Brownsville to Braddock: Paintings and Observations of the Monongahela Valley. . . [Donoughe] has managed to capture both the sadness of the valley’s decline and the inherent strength and beauty of its history, its architecture,and its people.”—From the foreword by Maxwell King, author of The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers

Past Praise for Ron Donoughe: “Ron captures not only the essence of a subject or place, but a moment in time as well . . . Ron is drawn intuitively to the sites that he paints by color, light, atmosphere, texture, shadow, shape, and form. . . . He paints in all seasons and at all times of the day in an effort to translate particular places and moments into art.”—Barbara L. Jones, curator at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822946755, 136pp.

Publication Date: March 9, 2021

About the Author

Ron Donoughe has been painting and documenting the western Pennsylvania region for the last thirty years. His paintings can be found in the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, the Heinz History Center, the Duquesne Club, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and numerous corporate and private collections. He has taught painting at LaRoche College, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and at workshops throughout the United States and France. His previous books include 90 Pittsburgh Neighborhoods and Essence of Pittsburgh.