Thursday, July 21, 2016

RECAP // Factory 500: Behind-the-Scenes with Artist Dennis Maher

Artist Dennis Maher in his installation at 516 Sampsonia Way

Last Thursday, Factory 500 members got to go where no members have gone before...into the working mind of Buffalo artist Dennis Maher! Dennis has been working over at the Mattress Factory's 516 Sampsonia Way gallery building for the past month installing his upcoming exhibition set to open Saturday, August 13, 2016.

Still in an unfinished state, Factory 500 members were able to navigate through Dennis' intense work-in-progress, while picking his brain about his process. Dennis' installation spans all three floors of the Mattress Factory's 516 Sampsonia Way gallery building.

Following the tour, Factory 500 members and Dennis joined Co-Directors Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk upstairs in their 6th floor loft atop the Mattress Factory's main building. Factory 500 members were able to continue their conversation with Dennis, while enjoying a cocktail and browsing the Co-Directors' impressive art collection.

Photo of Co-Directors Barbara Luderowski & Michael Olijnyk's private loft on the 6th floor of the museum

For more information about Factory 500, please contact Caitlin Harpster, Fundraising & Donor Relations Officer, at or 412.231.3169.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Recap and Farewell: Teen Art Cooperative: January – May!

Emily Simons talks about the work of the Beehive Collective with Co-op members.

Since we last checked in, the Teen Art Cooperative has been up to so much! We started out the New Year with a compelling and informative workshop from Emily Simons of the Beehive Collective, followed by a captivating and collaborative visual workshop from current Mattress Factory artist Kevin Clancy. As Spring rolled in, we made our own jewelry pieces with local artist Catharine Luckett, and then had a lesson in visual literacy from the wonderful Joey Behrens.

Co-op members explore phenomenal properties of light and technology with Kevin Clancy.

During this time, we also worked hard on planning our second event UNHIBERNATE, which took place on April 1, 2016.

Flyer for Teen Art Co-op's event UNHIBERNATE. 

The event featured performances from local bands Chattel Tail, Chase the Monkey and Nox Boys, as well as visits from local organizations 1Hood, Bike Pittsburgh and our friend Emily Simons of the Beehive Collective. By the end of the night, our donation-based admission station had collected 254 pounds of canned and dry goods for the Northside Community Food Pantry!

UNHIBERNATE guests smile as balloons drop during the Nox Boys performance.

As the end of year drew closer, the Co-op members packed in some great, informative field trips to Radiant Hall Studios in Lawrenceville and Manchester Craftsmen's Guild on the North Side.

Artist Liz Rudnick speaks with Co-op members about her practice at Radiant Hall Studios in Lawrenceville.

We learned how to make and stitch our very own books with Sarah Croop, and we playfully experimented with movement and readymade sculptures with artist Jasen Bernthisel.

Co-op members work on their folding skills during a bookmaking workshop with artist Sarah Croop. The workshop took place inside of the Rob Voerman's installation Faculty on the fourth floor. 

Before we knew it, it was time for the Cooperative to think about its final event of the season. After some hard work and thoughtful planning, KALEIDOSCOPE emerged — a collective art show featuring the work of all 11 Co-op members. The evening also featured a musical performance by previous Co-op members Mogo as well as Voice Channel, a project created by a group from Winchester Thurston High School that is concerned with amplifying youth voices in the social justice realm.

KALEIDOSCOPE took place on Friday, May 27, and it was a wonderful way to bookend an amazing year. We can't wait to see what each of these Co-op members will create, tackle, and organize next...we are sure it will be stellar!

The Cooperative poses for a final group shot at their collective art show KALEIDOSCOPE, with Co-op member Janine Paulson's piece 'Table Cloths and Bed Sheets' as a backdrop. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

RECAP// Mini-Factory: SPACE

We all respond to SPACEs in a personal way, whether at an installation art museum, the playground, a drive-in movie or the comfort of home. Certain SPACEs speak to specific senses, enhancing the experiential quality of soaking in a SPACE.

At the Mattress Factory Museum, artists respond to SPACE with creative means. Imaginations envision and transform SPACE into a surreal, provocative and intellectual forums for viewers to experience, not just observe. Participation is key to activating installation art. Perhaps some are forever changed by one experience, while others may decide to dismiss and forget.

Our curious group of young artists in Mini-Factory learned about various SPACEs. How do artists respond to making, creating and installing art for a SPACE? How does that SPACE make us feel — joyful, crowded, surprised? It is this element which brands our memory with experiences.

As Mini-Factory discovered, no SPACE is too small, too big or too ordinary for artists.

Handrail is a favorite piece which always sparks a reaction; using simplicity and wit to surprise visitors, it reminds us art can be anywhere, at anytime, in any SPACE. Wendy Judge takes an outside SPACE and brings it inside. How did she accomplish bringing a landscape inside the gallery? What outside SPACE would you bring inside? Jene Highstein's Untitled confronts the visitor. Do you feel crowded? Uncomfortable? How do we navigate these situations? Art can evoke self-awareness from many different angles.

Wrapping up our hour together, Mini-Factory participants made their own SPACE using a box, a plethora of materials and their imaginations. What SPACE would you create?

Mini-Factory is an interactive learning program for children ages 3 - 5 years old and their parents or caregivers. Using contemporary installation art, parents and children will explore new ideas and concepts from the everyday world.

Join us at 10am on June 11th for INSTALL!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

RECAP // Coffee Date with David Bowen

On Saturday, May 21, members joined artist David Bowen for a cozy discussion in the Mattress Factory café. David’s work SPACEJUNK premiered only the day before at the 2016 Factory Installed exhibition, allowing members to be among the very first to learn about the process behind the creation of SPACEJUNK!

David uses robotics, sensors and custom-built software to explore the intersections between natural and mechanical systems. He kicked off the discussion by sharing some of his previous works, including Tele-Present Water, an installation that replicated the movement and intensity of water based on data from a buoy adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

This idea of communicating a remote experience using data is also echoed in David’s work at the Mattress Factory. He explained that there are over 500,000 pieces of human-made space debris circling the earth! These can range from spent rocket bodies, satellites, to tools from previous space missions. David talked about his fascination with the subject, how “so much energy was put into launching these things, and yet now they are in this state of slow decay.”

David designed a program to scrape data from a website that tracks the orbiting human-made debris. Then he built 50 machines to point twigs in unison towards the oldest piece currently above the horizon. What results is a mesmerizing (and sometimes startling!) display that is constantly changing as debris appear and disappear beyond the horizon.

Up close to the works, members got to ask David all sorts of questions about the process of putting together the installation and the different components of the piece. “I love learning about such completely unexpected things like this and seeing the overlap with art and technology," one member shared.

Join us for our next Coffee Date with Lauren Kalman on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 10:30am.

Monday, May 9, 2016

RECAP // Coffee Date with Wendy Judge

This Saturday, Mattress Factory members kicked of the new season of Coffee Dates with Irish artist Wendy Judge. Wendy is based in Dublin, but has been living in the Mexican War Streets in the Mattress Factory's Artist Residency space around the corner from the museum for the past month and a half. Wendy is one of four artists in the Mattress Factory's upcoming show Factory Installed that opens on Friday, May 20 at the museum's satellite gallery at 1414 Monterey Street.

Members trickled in to the Mattress Factory Café to be greeted by hot coffee and tea, courtesy of Commonplace Coffee located around the corner on Buena Vista, and Arnold's Tea on East Ohio. Breadworks Bakery rounded out breakfast with a selection of their specialty breads.

After everyone made their introductions, Wendy decided to take the members over to her working studio on 1414 Monterey Street. With just under two weeks until her opening, members had the private experience of seeing Wendy's installation in progress. "It's like looking into her mind," one member commented. Wendy described her work using phrases like "armchair travel" and "looking through a pair of backwards binoculars." Her sculpture--a now construction zone filled with plywood, blue foam board and grey paint--will soon morph into a beautiful landscape, a topographical study of land and earth. Wendy focused on strip mining in West Virginia as source material for her installation. Photographs of a recent trip to West Virginia line the walls of her gallery space. "I'm interested in the scarring that occurs on the land after strip mining," Wendy said. "The land reflects so much trauma in these pictures." MF members chimed in with their own stories and relationships to mining in the region. Wendy described her practice as "drawing in space." She uses no technology when rendering her sculptures. "It's actually quite an irrational practice, I guess."

Wendy's installation, yet to be titled, opens Friday, May 20 at the Mattress Factory's 1414 Monterey Street Gallery as part of Factory Installed. The Opening Reception is from 6-8pm. $15 or FREE for MF Members, and students with valid ID from CMU and Point Park.

Join us for our next Coffee Date with David Bohen on Saturday, May 21 at 10:30am.

Not a member? Join today!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Apply now! 2016 Summer Art Cooperative Applications Due May 1

If you're a high school student in Pittsburgh or the surrounding areas and would like to get involved with the Mattress Factory, consider joining the 2016 Summer Art Cooperative! The FREE program will run from July 6  - August 5, 2016, and will feature weekly workshops led by 10 local artists. In addition to workshops, Coop members will gain hands-on museum experience as they work together to plan an event, hear from museum staff about their careers, and more. Featuring teaching artists will include:

John Peña
Felicia Cooper
Jeff Weston
Lindsey Peck Scherloum
Rose Clancy
Henry Gepfer
Hudson Rush
Anna Bieberdorf

and more!

Applications for the Summer Art Cooperative are due Sunday, May 1 and can be emailed to Stephanie St. Aubin, or physically mailed to:

Mattress Factory
Attn: Stephanie St. Aubin
500 Sampsonia Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15212 

We hope you'll consider joining us for a summer of collaboration, creative practice and exploration! 

RECAP // Factory 500 Weekend: Pittsburgh Opera + Troy Hill Art Houses

Factory 500 members on the Pittsburgh Opera's rehearsal stage for The Rake's Progress 
This past weekend, Factory 500 members were treated to back-to-back exclusive contemporary art experiences! 

On Friday, April 22, Factory 500 members received a behind-the-scenes tour of the Pittsburgh Opera's production of Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress. British artist David Hockney designed the jaw-dropping sets, props, wigs and costumes, drawing from the visual aesthetic of William Hogarth's famous series of engravings that originally inspired the opera. 

Members got to examine gorgeous, one-of-a-kind set pieces and costumes up close, seeing the intense cross-hatching that Hockney employed to mimic the feel of Hogarth's engravings. 

The next day, over 50 Factory 500 members gathered in Pittsburgh's Troy Hill neighborhood. To an outsider, it looked like a curious decision - what were contemporary art enthusiasts doing gathered in an ordinary neighborhood?

Factory 500 members gather at The Pear and the Pickle, Troy Hill's newest neighborhood cafe. 

Indeed, from t
he exterior, 1812 Rialto Street blends seamlessly into the block of family homes. But as soon as our members entered the door, they embarked on what they described as an "unexpected," "completely astonishing," and "delightful" adventure!

The entire house, known as "La H
üitte Royal," is the work of a German artists named Thorsten Brinkman who transformed the once vacant house over the course of two years. Members crawled through tunnels, climbed ladders, practiced their golf swings and traversed a series of spaces designed from top to bottom. The house is the first Troy Hill art house commissioned by Even Mirapaul. 

At 1718 Rialto Street, we explore "Kunzhaus," the second of Evan Mirapaul's art houses, which just opened in March 2016. Polish contemporary artists Robert Kusmirowski drew from the history of the house and its occupants as well as elements of his own past. 

Factory 500 is the Mattress Factory's premiere membership program, chaired by Susan Lammie. The group tours private collections, artist studios, local businesses and other interesting arts destinations in Pittsburgh several times throughout the year. Don't miss out join today