Mt. Lebanon artist painting image of Andy Warhol on North Side building

Early in her art career, Ashley Hodder recalled visiting the “Silver Clouds” exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum.

“The bouncing silver balloons opened my mind into what art can be,” said Hodder, who has been painting a mural of Warhol’s image not far from the North Side museum. “Instead of being untouchable on the wall, visitors are encouraged to play and interact with the installation. It is fun, and approachable, similar to what drew me to street art.”

Hodder said people don’t need a ticket or to pay any money to see street art, which is often temporary.

“Instead of being viewed in a quiet, hushed environment you have traffic, and honking and sirens and all the hustle and bustle,” she said.

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JoAnne Klimovich Harrop | Tribune-Review

Mt. Lebanon artist Ashley Hodder spray paints an image of pop artist Andy Warhol on a building on East Ohio Street in Pittsburgh’s North Side.

That has been the background she’s been creating in, 45 feet above street level from a crane. She began with a freehand sketch and spray paint. She uses a combination of low and high pressure spray paint that helps achieve detail work and blending effects, as well as glow in the dark paint for the stars. When she is finished, she will put on four layers of an industrial clear coat, including a UV resistant sealant for the weather.

The image is being made from a photo of a self-portrait of pop-artist Warhol and is called “Cosmic Clouds,” a combination of Warhol’s clouds and Hodder’s clouds. They are not defined but appear to be flowing through different dimensions or portals, she said. It’s located on the side of a building at 505 East Ohio St.

Hodder said the idea came to her when she experienced a lot of death and loss in a short period of time.

“I was thinking about death all the time,” she said. “During that period a comforting thought was a law of physics, which states that matter cannot be created or destroyed but can be rearranged in space.”

She said “the particles that make us up, were one time part of a nebula (an enormous cloud of dust and gas occupying the space between stars) or star or some kind of space dust, but now they are us and will go back to the universe in multiple ways.”

“Which, in essence means, we are temporarily arranged space particles,” she said. “So I have this represented by dots in my painting style. The figures are part of space clouds and nebulas. Some are transparent and dissolving into the universe. So instead of being sad or morbid I think it’s kind of a cool way to look at it.”

Nathan Pazsint, a real estate agent with SVN Three Rivers Commercial Advisors, a commercial real estate brokerage firm based in Downtown Pittsburgh, is working with eight owners on North Side projects and introduced Hodder to the owner of 505-507 East Ohio St.

Artists are able to create artwork with Warhol’s likeness, said Rick Armstrong, director of marketing and communications for the Andy Warhol Museum.

The Pop District, a transformation of Pittsburgh’s eastern North Shore led by The Andy Warhol Museum, is also documenting the work, which is a great example of how they are currently expanding their mission at the museum, Pazsint said.

There is a North Side group looking to have more street art and possibly create a map of murals with access via a QR code.

When Pazsint moved to Pittsburgh in 1994 he was an artist and writer and lived a half a block from the mural. Hodder’s piece has a vibe, a retro feel, Pazsint said.

“Ashley has absolutely knocked it out of the park and the owner and neighborhood are both loving it,” he said. “She is such a strong artist, with exceptional execution. Her work is some of the best street art. It is bright and vibrant and her use of color brings energy.”

Hodder is mostly self-taught. She was in a PhD program at the University of Miami in behavioral medicine but decided to leave that and switch to Carlow University to become an art teacher. She teaches occasional art workshops and owns Ashley Hodder Art.

“I have always loved doing art and thought if I don’t try art I will always wonder about it,” said Hodder, of Mt. Lebanon. “Pittsburgh is a rich arts city. I like to put a spotlight on our rich arts culture.”

Hodder has created murals in East Liberty, Troy Hill, Braddock, Allentown, Mt. Lebanon, South Florida and Brooklyn. One of her pieces was featured on the screen in Times Square in New York. She has been working on this for a few weeks, sometimes from morning until night.

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Courtesy of Ashley Hodder

An in-process look at a mural of an image of pop artist Andy Warhol created by Mt. Lebanon artist Ashley Hodder on Pittsburgh’s North Side.

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne by email at jharrop@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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Art & Museums | Northside | Pittsburgh | South Hills Record | Top Stories

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