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!

Friday, January 20, 2017

MF Shop // Artist Feature: Adam J. Waddell

If you've ever meandered through the MF Shop or even the local Pittsburgh art scene, then you'll probably recognize Adam Waddell's work of AJW Creations. Adam's pieces include unique handmade items such as home decor, ceramic housewares, sculptures, and jewelry. The MF Shop has carried pieces from AJW Creations since the Spring of 2014, and this month we're happy to announce that he's our featured artist!

Born in Beaver, Pa, but raised in Corry, Pa, Adam cultivated a passion for art through the influence of his mother and grandmother. Currently, the artist maintains his practice through pottery, sculpture, industrial designs, and glass blowingWe were delighted to have Adam join us in conversation about his work.
Q. What are your biggest inspirations for your current body of work?
A. I think my main inspiration is found in simple form with simple design. 

Q: Were you a big 'maker' as a kid? If so what did you make?
A: As a kid I was always making things. I grew up in the country so a big part of my childhood was spent playing in the woods. I would make little clay pots and carve walking sticks and such. 

Q: If you could make artwork on a grand scale, as in physically large - what would you create and where would it live?
A: It would be really fun to make giant human forms in the ocean. Something you could climb up and scuba dive under? I would also like to spend some time in Scotland by the coast. Something about the cold rough ocean attracts me, or Maine will do. 

Q: What does an average day look like in your studio?
A: Average day in my studio looks like organized chaos. Between making jewelry, pottery, packaging it can be alittle challenging. I work from a home studio which means I work out of two spare rooms but I like to start with a clean studio. 

Q: What has been your favorite Mattress Factory Installation?
A: My favorite Mattress Factory Installation is the Yayoi Kusama infinity dots. I love sitting in there. 

To see more of Adam's work for yourself, visit the MF Shop! Admission is NOT required to shop!

Monday, October 17, 2016

RECAP // Coffee Date with Stephen Bram

Last Saturday, we settled into the Mattress Factory Café to start off a new season of Coffee Dates and chat with Australian artist Stephen Bram, one of the exhibiting artists in the recently opened Factory Installed show. Stephen’s piece, "Third floor West gallery 500 Sampsonia Way," is an architectural installation that uses shifted perspective to create a three dimensional space of smooth white walls and exposed timber.

We started the morning with an insightful discussion about the similarities and differences between Pittsburgh and Stephen’s hometown of Melbourne. As usual, conversation was accompanied by piping-hot coffee from Commonplace Coffeehouse, teas from Arnold’s Tea, and fresh donuts from Priory Bakery. After we had our fill, we headed up into the gallery to see Stephen’s piece and to talk about it in the gallery space. Because the piece had just opened the night before, most members were seeing this room-sized structure for the first time.

Stephen answered numerous questions about the construction and design of his piece. One of his favorite aspects of "Third floor West gallery 500 Sampsonia Way" is the way that the structure interacts with each of the permanent installations that surround it. Whether the pieces deal with perspective, like James Turrell and Sarah Oppenheimer's works, or an autobiographical concept, as with Greer Lankton's work, he appreciates that almost everything on the third floor can connect in some way.

Members, be sure to RSVP for the next Coffee Date this Saturday, October 8th, with Mohammed Musallam. We hope to see you there!