Tuesday, November 30, 2010

STRANGE DEMOCRACY: An Evening with Spoken Word Brujo Guillermo Gómez Peña

Born in 1955 and raised in Mexico City, Guillermo Gómez-Peña came to the United States in 1978 and established himself as a performance artist, writer, activist, and educator. Much of his work—which includes performance art and photography, audio, video, installations, poetry, journalism, critical writings, and cultural theory—explores the culture and politics of the U.S.-Mexico border. In a larger sense, Gómez-Peña’s art and writings address the confrontations and misunderstandings that occur whenever two or more cultures, languages, or races meet.

Gómez-Peña’s performance and installation work has been presented at over seven-hundred venues across the world, and, in 2009, the Mattress Factory was honored to host Strange Democracy: An Evening with Guillermo Gómez-Peña. In this solo performance, Gómez-Peña tackled the end of the Bush era and the formidable challenges facing Obama. Using his body, language, and wit as his primary tools, Gómez-Peña reflected on identity, race, sexuality, pop culture, politics, and the impact of new technologies in the post-9-11 era.

For the past twenty years Gómez-Peña’s groundbreaking works (which critics have termed “Chicano cyber-punk performances” and “ethno-techno art”) have contributed to debates on cultural diversity, identity, and U.S.-Mexico relations. So we are excited to announce that Gómez-Peña will return to Pittsburgh this December, first for a lecture at CMU, then for a performance and audience discussion here at the MF on Thursday, 12/2 at 7:00PM entitled Strange Democracy: An Evening with Spoken Word Brujo Guillermo Gómez-Peña!

Strange Democracy: An Evening with Spoken Word Brujo Guillermo Gómez-Peña
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
The cost is $10. As always, MF Members and Pitt and CMU students are free!

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Annual Fund 2010 at the Mattress Factory

Thank you for a great year!

2010 was an exciting year for the Mattress Factory. LIKENESS, an exhibition that presented portraiture in a new way was on view in March. Nothing is Impossible, David Beattie: Old Light, New Darkness, and our 14th installment of Gestures presented new work by artists from Ireland, England and Pittsburgh. We sold out our Urban Garden Party for the first time in the history of the Mattress Factory. In A Generous Act: A Collaboration with Music musicians from Europe and Pittsburgh joined forces. Queloides: Race and Racism in Cuban Contemporary Art is now on view.

Douglas Pérez, Ecosystema

This year alone, we hosted over 30 artists, including those from Pittsburgh, Ireland, France, England and Cuba. Your generous gift allows us to further support artists from around the world as they create groundbreaking installations and explore the creative process. Your generosity helps us continue our mission.

Your gift to the Annual Fund also supports our Education department. We host family and community events like ArtLab and Family Day, and connect working artists with teachers, schools and families. The Education department bases its programming and events on the permanent collection and special exhibitions, ensuring that students, teachers and families really get into the art we have on view. Groups can set up tours in advance, and we are pleased to announce tours in Spanish for our Queloides exhibition on view. The Education department’s latest project is The Space I’m In, a learning resource that can become a part of any classroom.

Education events are held for all ages.

And of course the Mattress Factory offers yearly membership, event rentals, and the unique Shop and BoxSpring Café.

Merchandise from the MF Shop

And we don’t plan on stopping here – our future plans include expansion into new gallery space on Sampsonia and a new permanent outdoor light sculpture by world-renowned artist Hans Peter Kuhn.

Acupuncture by Hans Peter Kuhn

We had a great year in 2010, but with your help next year is going to be even better.

If you have questions or concerns about giving to the MF Annual fund, please call us at 412-231-3169 or email abby[at]mattress.org. Remember, your gift is 100% tax-deductible and every little bit makes a difference.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Every year the Mattress Factory hosts a Family Day the Friday after Thanksgiving. It gives people the option of avoiding the malls and finding something fun to do with out-of-town visitors that doesn’t involve making a mess of your home. It is much nicer here than at a crowded mall, I swear. We have a delicious café, beautiful museum shop (you can STILL GO SHOPPING), a wonderful exhibition, and, of course our – never disappointing – permanent collection.

Viewing Guardarraya by María Magdalena Campos-Pons, October 2010

This year we’ll be offering hands-on activities in our lobby from 11am-4pm for the entire family. PLUS, we’ll have special guests from Hear Me—an initiative of the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University that engages children in creative conversations about their lives and uses technology and media to broadcast their stories throughout our region. They’ll be collecting stories in honor of the National Day of Listening. We’re especially excited that they’re coming because Family Day will kick off what we hope to be a sustained collaboration with the folks at Hear Me.

Mother and son listening to a Hear Me project

Contact the MF’s Education Department for more information: education [at] mattress [dot] org

Friday, November 5, 2010


Want a $25 Membership? Just head on over to the Groupon site at http://www.groupon.com/deals/the-mattress-factory and support the Mattress Factory by purchasing a Green membership at half price!

In anticipation of a crazy day, I’d like to answer questions that may come up today (and beyond):

What is Groupon?
Groupon is a deal-of-the-day website that is localized to major markets in the U.S., including Pittsburgh. They partner with local businesses to offer a discount on an item or service and they in turn send out a free email to all of their subscribers about the deal. (You can sign up for today’s deal on their site: www.groupon.com.)

What benefits are provided by the Green Membership?
No paper mail. Ever.
- FREE museum admission for one year
- FREE admission to exhibition openings
- Complimentary one-time admission for two guests
- Electronic invitations to exhibition openings and special events
- Bi-monthly email newsletters
- 10% discount in the BoxSpring Café
- 10% discount in the MF Shop – includes online purchases
- Discounted tickets to the Annual Urban Garden Party

Can I give this as a gift?
Yes, you can totally buy this for a friend, just use click on the “Buy for a Friend” link directly below the big green “Buy!” button. You can buy yourself a Membership as well as a gift Membership for a total of two.

I’m already a Member, can I renew?
Of course! I’d also like to point out that we will extend your Membership for a full year from the date of your expiration. In other words, if your Membership isn’t set to expire until July 2011 and you buy a Groupon, your Membership will be extended until July 2012. Even if you just joined the MF Member community yesterday, feel free to grab a Groupon and extend your Green Membership until November 2012.

Why Groupon?
Here at the Mattress Factory we want to make sure we are reaching out to new audiences all the time. And we’re hoping that partnering with Groupon will do just that. Lots of people in Pittsburgh don’t know what the Mattress Factory is all about and we want new people to discover “that installation museum” nestled in the middle of the Mexican War Streets.

Are you scared?
Yes! We’re actually quite nervous about a huge turnout. Our Membership Department consists of a total staff of ONE. Yup. Just one person runs all of our membership programs and initiatives. The awesome Abby Vanim is our sole Membership Coordinator, so it may take a couple of days for all of the official Green Membership welcome emails to be sent. Please be patient.

Is this deal for the Green Membership level only?
Yes. For simplicity's sake (and to preserve Abby's sanity), we are only able to offer today's Groupon Deal for the paperless Green Membership level.

Questions? Concerns? Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me (lindsay [at] mattress [dot] org) or Abby (abby [at] mattress [dot] org) at any time.

P.S. I need to give a shout out to Will Cary, former Membership Manager over at the Brooklyn Museum, for giving sage advice many moons ago. Thanks, Will! (He posted a fantastic blog post about why they did a Groupon special for their museum over on their blog in October 2009. Check it out.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Hi there, everyone! My name is Christy, and I am interning in the Mattress Factory’s Marketing Department. I will be guest posting here on the ol’ blog over the next few weeks, and I’m excited to get started!

For my first post, I’d like to focus on the amazing items available in the MF Shop; after all, the holidays are just around the corner! The MF Shop is full of unique gifts—from clothing and accessories, to limited-edition artist-made items, and everything in between. Plus, all museum purchases help the Mattress Factory offer unparalleled support to our artists-in-residence. So you can take home some really cool stuff while directly supporting the mission of the museum!

And as if all that isn’t enough, from now until November 30th, 2010, we are offering free shipping on orders over $50! So now’s the perfect time to get a head start on your holiday shopping (and maybe even pick up a little something for yourself). My personal favorites include the Maxine Dear Belt Buckles, which are made out of repurposed library books, the cheeky ”Art you can get into” Undies, and the wonderfully quirky Vintage Typewriter Tie.

You could even go green this holiday season by purchasing a loved one a 100% paperless Green Membership. Our Green members enjoy the many benefits of a year-long membership (free admission, discounts, etc.) but receive all MF correspondence electronically. It’s a win-win; a higher percentage of membership dollars goes directly toward supporting cutting-edge art, and the museum produces less paper materials. Visit www.mfshop.org for more information.

Finally, while you’re browsing the MF Shop, don’t forget to check out the Shop Blog, updated weekly by CMU grad student and MF Operations Intern Evelyn. Her blog posts include information on staff members, new items, and more, accompanied by videos and questions that readers can respond to on Facebook.

Happy shopping!