Thursday, September 14, 2017

RECAP // Factory 500 Tour of Homewood

On Friday, September 8, Factory 500 members joined MF Co-Directors at the Homewood studio of blacksmith Colin Carrier, owner of London Pattern. Carrier's studio creates handcrafted and decorative metalworks for homes and businesses using old-school technology and vintage tools. Carrier demonstrated the versatility of his machines, showing members the sheer force needed to work with metal as well as the delicacy and skill required for more intricate pieces.

Members were able to gather close, getting an intimate look at Carrier's technique, though they were careful to stay far enough away so as not to get burned!

The group then made their way down the street to Ashley Cecil's studio. Cecil is an artist and illustrator who is fascinated with flora and fauna. Her work blends art and science. She immerses herself in residencies with scientific institutions and gains inspiration for her paintings from their collections of birds and plants. 

Cecil explained her process of painting, graphic design, and manufacturing to MF members, showcasing her extensive body of work.

Finally, members ended their evening at the home of MF board member, Alice Snyder, where they were joined in a surprise visit from the Shady Dog. Members dined on hot dogs, pierogies, and wine while they enjoyed the evening and the last bits of the summer. 

For more information on how you can get involved with Factory 500, simply click here and join today! If you have questions about the program please do not hesitate to contact Nicole Hall, Development Coordinator. Catch up with what the group has been doing by following this blog and our Instagram account.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

RECAP // MF Member Trip to Philadelphia!

On August 19, 2017, the Mattress Factory set out on its first-ever overnight trip to Philadelphia!

After loading up on coffee, pastries, and other goodies from a hearty breakfast spread, MF members boarded a coach bus at the early hour of 7am. Once the bus got rolling, members had the chance to mingle and get to know their fellow art appreciators. There was a great deal of excitement as everyone on the bus chatted about what was sure to be the highlight of the trip, the visit to the James Turrell Skyspace, Greet the Light.

MF Members socialized during the drive to Philadelphia!

Our first stop was The Fabric Workshop and Museum where Kate Abercrombie, Printing Production Manager and Master Printer, showed our group several artist boxes. After each Artist in Residence at The Fabric Workshop and Museum completes their time there, the museum preserves artifacts from their residency at the museum in boxes. It was a rare look into the working practice of artists, such as Ann Hamilton [artifacts from her piece pictured below], who exhibited at the MF.

Then, Kate led a screen printing demonstration, and MF members had the chance to try out screen printing on fabric! After taking some time to tour the Louis Kahn exhibition, members packed up for a quick break before their next adventure.

Factory 500 member Anoo pulls off a perfect print!

The group convened for a delicious, multi-course dinner and drinks at El Poquito restaurant! The group had a chance to chat about their shared love of art - and everything else, too, over a leisurely meal. There was laughter and conversation all around, and members left the table not only having had a good meal, but having made new friends.

Trip attendees enjoyed craft cocktails and delightful food together!

As the sun began to set, the group traveled over to the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting, a Quaker Meetinghouse where the James Turrell Skyspace, Greet the Light, is housed. There, Signe Wilkinson greeted our group and spoke with us about the piece. Everyone found their place, the lights dimmed, and the hour-long experience began. Photos are not allowed in the Turrell piece, but our members described the piece as an extraordinary sensation, meditative, and truly transcendent. 

Everyone's experience was a little different. Members saw the color of the sky change, observed the sky appearing to become solid, to move, to expand and contract. They saw the ceiling disappear, and watched satellites move across an alien-looking green, then pink, then purple, then blacker-than-black field. The group left feeling calmed and illuminated by their shared encounter with one of James Turrell's phenomenal works.

Some of our group were so entranced with Greet the Light that they returned at 5am to take part in the sunrise viewing of the piece. Members of the morning crew reported that the morning experience was unique and incredibly vibrant. All who went were happy they traded sleep for the opportunity.

This intrepid crew returned to the Skyspace at 5am for a sunrise viewing - and it was worth it!
The rest of the morning was spent freely. Some people ventured out for brunch while others took advantage of the hotel's central location to visit sites such as the Barnes Foundation, Reading Terminal, and the Mütter Museum. Around noon, everyone convened for one last adventure.

At FS Investments, trip-goers were let in on a quiet Sunday to explore the CEO, Michael Forman's, private art collection. The artists represented in the collection are too numerous to name here, but included Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Robert Motherwell, and Cecily Brown. The group wandered down halls, peeked into meeting rooms, and climbed up and down stairs finding rarely-seen artwork by a diverse array of modern and contemporary artists at every turn.

Attendees returned to Pittsburgh Sunday evening with amazing memories and new connections. If you missed it this time, keep an eye out, because we may be cooking up a repeat tour for the future!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

RECAP // Factory 500 Tour of Wilkinsburg

Factory 500 members prepare to tour the Wilkinsburg Train Station.
On a recent rainy July day, Factory 500 members gathered at the Wilkinsburg Train Station, an iconic landmark that has stood abandoned since its closing in 1976. Tracey Evans, Executive Director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation, and John Evans, preservation architect with MacLachlan Cornelius & Filoni, gave members an in-depth look at the history and architecture of the building, including their plans for the restoration and re-opening of the site. With hardhats on, MF members stepped through the double doors into a space that the public has not seen for over forty years. Members photographed the high ceilings that reflected in the water, the original cast iron door frames, and the light that fell through the collapsing roof.

A member inspects the basement of the one-hundred year old train station.
MF members listen to John Evans explain the next steps for the building's restoration.

After removing their hardhats, Factory 500 members made their way just around the corner to Tip Type and Lovett Sundries. Tip Type, a letterpress print shop and collaborative artist-run space, is located in a traditional print shop that had been in operation since 1957. MF Members examined the antique presses, linotypes, wooden and lead typefaces, and various other artifacts of a bygone era of printmaking while Haylee Ebersole, an artist and member of Tip Type, told the story of the shop and gave a demonstration using the printing equipment. 

Haylee Ebersole demonstrates her use of Tip Type's antique printing equipment. 

Right next door, members visited with Jeff Lovett of Lovett Sundries, purveyors of local, hand-crafted apothecary items. Factory 500 members sampled hand creams, bug spray, deodorant and more. With an exclusive discount for the Factory 500 group, many members shopped and took home an array of products.

Members were able to purchase a variety of hand-made goods at a nice discount!
Following a brief drive through Wilkinsburg, Factory 500 members reconnected at the studio and home of artist, Dee Briggs. Dee shared how her ties to the Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh communities have affected her work and positively impacted her on a personal level. Members had the opportunity to explore her studio yard, where the artist had four large-scale sculptures on display. The group was able to gain insight into Dee’s process through a visit to her design space, where she maps out her projects using architecture and design software prior to their fabrication. Mattress Factory members wrapped up the afternoon with conversation over wine and refreshments in Dee’s studio.

Dee Briggs speaks about her artistic practice in front of one of her sculptures.

Oil stick drawings, smaller sculptures, and models from Dee Briggs' studio.

For more information about Factory 500 or to join today, please visit or contact Nicole Hall at or 412.231.3169. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Factory 500 at the Carnegie Museum of Art with Arthur Lubetz

Arthur Lubetz, the well-known Pittsburgh architect, volunteered his time to show the Factory 500 Members around his career retrospective, Action, Ideas, Architecture: Arthur Lubetz/Front Studio at the Carnegie Museum of Art this past April. Lubetz, who has built a successful career spanning five decades—both in Pittsburgh and internationally—has been working in the Pittsburgh region since the 1960’s and has created several iconic buildings that have been incorporated into our everyday landscape.

Factory 500 members had the opportunity to hear from Lubetz about his career, philosophy, and what’s next for Pittsburgh in an intimate conversation with the architect. Lubetz discussed his influences that span back to his childhood, and his favorite Pittsburgh Center for the Arts teacher that helped shape the way he thinks about art and architecture today. “Don’t forget, architecture is art,” said his teacher. That statement has stuck with him throughout his rich career, and is surely evident through his architecture around the Pittsburgh region. Lubetz has designed such buildings as the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill, the Sharpsburg Library and The Glass Lofts along Penn Avenue.


Following the tour and Q&A Factory 500 Members and Arthur Lubetz joined Mattress Factory Board Member Viju Verghis and his wife Anoo at their private home for cocktails, snacks and refreshments.

Look out for more Factory 500 events which feature private tours and exclusive access to Pittsburgh's cultural scene. To become a member visit the Factory 500 page on our website. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

MF Shop Artist Feature // Clohn Art

This month the MF Shop is featuring artist John Lee also known as Clohn Art. Lee is an interdisciplinary artist who grew up in Albuquerque, spent several years in Kunming, China, and now resides in Pittsburgh, where you can find his artwork in the city's museums and neighborhoods.

Clohn Art describes himself as both a street and folk artist, but just from viewing his pieces in the shop, his work is also influenced by cubism, surrealism, and even pop art. His colorful paintings are often abstract depictions of people or animals and can be found stapled to pieces of wood around Pittsburgh because the artist loves to use cardboard as a canvas.

Lee believes that everyone should own a piece of original art, which is one reason his work is so affordable. In the shop, we have a collection of cardboard paintings that start at $20, making Lee's art accessible for almost everyone, and gallery ready pieces that are framed and priced by size.

To see more of Clohn Art's work, visit us in the MF Shop! Remember admission is not required to shop!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Discover Outreach!

Interested in learning about installation art and the Mattress Factory? Then check out our Community Outreach programs! Through these educational opportunities, we give students an introduction to the museum, our artists, and our ideas. We offer hands-on activities that can be brought to your school, community, organization, or event.

Outreach programs sustain meaningful exchanges with K-12 students that develop deeper relationships to the MF specifically and its resources that include visits to the museum, teaching artist residences, hands-on projects and support/mentorship from our educators.

These programs usually consist of weekly school visits or after school outlets where students work on a variety of different learning objectives that are meant to facilitate growth in the arts. In the past, Outreach has made sculptures out of reusable materials, Shibori pillows, yarn paintings and stop-motion videos!

We work with students all over the city, and specifically focus on providing programming to North Side schools and organizations. If you would like more information about Outreach or other education programs at the MF, please email We love to share what we do!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MF Shop Artist Feature // Maria Mangano

This month the MF Shop is proudly featuring artist Maria Mangano! Born in Syracuse, New York, Mangano moved to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon University where she earned her BFA in Printmaking/Drawing/Painting.

The artist finds inspiration at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History as well as the way nature seeps into our daily lives. Mangano's work focuses on the intersection of nature, museums and science to address the issues of wilderness, conservation, memory and humanness. She currently maintains a studio in Point Breeze, where she works on a variety of prints, mixed media installations, and drawings.

We spoke to Mangano about her current practice and also the way one of her favorite pieces at the Mattress Factory influenced her work, "Dan Steinhilber's Untitled [2006] had a really big effect on me," said Mangano. "Not because of the piece itself necessarily, although it was extraordinary and memorable, but because I was working as an installer and watched him spend months testing out ideas and playing with materials. He got pretty far along one particular path before scrapping it very close to the show's opening and made something totally different. It really taught me that you can't be afraid to change course and undo your previous work in pursuit of the best possible art you can

To see a special display of Mangano's prints and collages, visit the MF Shop where you will find a selection of curated art books, artisan jewelry, and home decor. Open Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm and Sunday 1pm - 5pm. Remember, admission is not required to shop!