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 the 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 Hüitte 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 time throughout the year. Don't miss out - join today!

Monday, April 18, 2016

RECAP // Mini-Factory: SOUND

Mini-Factory – our intrepid group of 3, 4 and 5 year olds - explored the world of SOUND at the Mattress Factory Museum.  How do artists use SOUND in their artwork?  What does the SOUND make me feel, think and imagine?   Red, by Rolf Julius, was a great starting point for our group.  Julius is an artist who pushes the boundaries of how our senses have traditionally been compartmentalized in the art world.  In Red, Julius has taken speakers, turned them upside-down, taken the grill off, and covered them with red pigment.  What happens when SOUND pipes through the red speakers? It jumps, vibrates and moves giving SOUND a visual component.

Stopping at the third floor landing, we explored another SOUND installation by Julius. Sound for Garden combines various objects such as wind chimes, factories, and city life to create a SOUND collage which compliments and accompanies the Garden Installation. The aim of this piece is to pull from two realms, SOUNDs of the past and present, guiding viewers to carefully observe their surroundings and, therefore, tune into their senses.

Once we explored galleries, it was time to put our observations to practice. Young artists listened to various sounds, including contrasting music allowing the SOUND to guide their paint brush.  We created a SOUND mural which was installed in the lobby of the Mattress Factory Museum.

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 on April 23 for ME!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

MF SHOP // Artist Feature: Nathan Hall

Every artwork tells a story. In this first ever MF Shop Artist Feature, we have chosen the work of composer, visual artist, jewelry designer, and Carnegie Mellon Alumni Nathan Hall.

A modern day Renaissance man, Nathan's jewelry line blurs the distinction between earthy and edgy. His one of a kind pieces are part of a fascinating story about the artist's experiences in Reykjavík, Iceland. We were delighted to have Nathan join us in conversation about his work.

I understand that you received your Masters in Music from Carnegie Mellon University, and later were a Fulbright Fellow for a year in Iceland. Could you tell me a bit more about your time in Iceland?

I’d been interested in Iceland since high school, and had even started taking Icelandic language lessons in Pittsburgh. Getting the Fulbright was one of the best things to ever happen to me!
I lived in Iceland for a year, making music, touring the country, meeting artists, and generally trying to immerse myself culturally. I got much better at speaking Icelandic, I joined a choir, and I started making new designs for my line of jewelry. Now that I’m back in the States, I go back to Iceland often to see friends, work on new creative projects, and visit places I haven’t yet seen.

As a composer and visual artist, what drew you to the medium of jewelry?

I’ve always been interested in jewelry right along with music, even from childhood. In grade school I’d make these hideous little bead necklaces for my relatives (they continue to joke with me about them to this day). And unlike composing, you see results from your work a lot faster, and then you can wear your art around.

In what ways has your background in music influenced your work as a jewelry designer?

For both fields, I’m constantly challenging myself to make new and better work and to stay fresh, and then get it out into the world. I love when my music creates a subtle atmosphere, and I hope that seeps a little into my jewelry as well.

Which aspects of Iceland were particularly inspiring to you?

There is a more immediate sense of landscape in Iceland- of all the lava that surrounds everything, of the dangers of the ocean waves, or the forces of a glacier grinding down a mountain. It’s more amped-up than most places in the world. Add to that a culture that really values the arts, and thinks it’s a totally valid life to be a composer or jewelry designer, or whatever—it’s all very inspiring.

The juxtaposition of raw natural elements and technically refined metalwork is particularly striking in your lava stone and metal crochet necklaces. Can you tell me a bit about the artistic process that goes into creating one of these pieces?

It took me quite a lot of trial and error to come to these designs, the right kind of pliable sterling silver, the width of the crochet, and how to get beads threaded into the piece. Every crocheted necklace is a single strand of wire, so I have to plan the shape out in advance, like a pattern. I also don’t crochet wire in the way I might make a scarf, because making irregular-sized loops is more interesting and organic to me.

Who do you have in mind when designing your jewelry?

Some of my favorite customers have been women who love art museums and big unique “statement” necklaces. The Barbara Luderowskis of the world! But when we can’t all be so bold, I imagine confident, stylish men and women who want something colorful, textural, with a story to tell.

What is your favorite piece in your collections?
It’s actually neither crocheted nor lava, but still rooted in Iceland. It’s a piece I did for a friend’s wedding (pictures below). I gathered sea glass on the coast of Reykjavík, and I wrapped the glass in sterling wire and wound the pieces with pearls and pale yellow crystals. I love those kinds of special projects. And the bride was happy too

To see Hall's line for yourself, visit the MF Shop online or at the museum! Admission is NOT required to shop.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

RECAP // Mini-Factory: COLOR

COLOR influences how we feel, how we see, and what we think. Today in Mini-Factory, our group of 3, 4 & 5 year old artists explored the world of COLOR by starting with a favorite book, My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss.  Expressions such as “feeling blue,” “white as a ghost,” and “red hot mad” convey how people associate feelings with COLOR. 

Anne Lindberg’s piece shift lens provided the perfect example of how artists are inspired by COLOR.  By combining various crisscrossed colored thread stretched wall to wall, shift lens creates a blending of colors.  Light filtering from windows behind the installation add another layer of nuance which further blends the blues, yellows and greens.

Artists are constantly inspired by the colors around them… and so too are chameleons.  Using children’s literature as our entry point, our group didn’t miss a step making the connection with A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni.  Chameleons change color to match their surroundings; how many colors can a chameleon be in the kitchen, in the desert, in the rainforest?  By looking carefully and observing the many tones of colors, students colored their chameleon to blend into various landscapes, putting into practice our discussion and exploration of COLOR.

Monday, February 22, 2016

RECAP // Breakfast In Bed: Valentine's Brunch @ the MF

This past Sunday, nearly 300 people joined us for our inaugural Valentine's Day Brunch. Love - and the aroma of fresh waffles - was in the air. Although usually closed on Sunday's, for Valentine's Day the Mattress Factory was open exclusively to Brunch attendees.

Visitors indulged in a scrumptious liège waffle spread courtesy of Pittsburgh favorite, Waffallonia, and spirits were high thanks to perfectly crafted mimosas and bloody mary's from local hot spots Salud Juicery and Wigle Whiskey. A huge thank you to everyone who came out and celebrated Valentine's Day with us, and our fantastic vendors for making this event one to remember!