Monday, December 19, 2011

pARTy LAB on Friday, December 30th

We had so much fun the day after Thanksgiving for our annual 2011 Family Day we’ve decided to do it again! Join us for pARTy LAB on Friday, December 30th from 11am-4pm for art activities in the museum’s lobby.

Here are photos from our Family Day last month... we loved it so much we're doing again!

Make a DIY Roadkill (inspired by Nika Kupyrova’s installation on our 3rd floor). Using fabric and clothing remnants, visitors can design their own stuffed creations. Museum educators will be on hand to sew and stick the freshly stuffed works of art together securely.

With New Year’s celebrations imminent, family-day participants can stop by our HAT-LAB to create one of a kind head-wear suitable for the most spectacular parties. Ring in the New Year in style—even your most fashion-forward friends will be envious.

Girls and Boys of all ages are invited to get down at our New Year’s pre-party at the MF.

Art activities for all ages
Friday, December 30th 
Free with museum admission


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Friday, December 16, 2011

It's no secret. It's no lie. We love our artists.

One of the greatest things about working at the MF is hanging with all of the amazing artists from around the world. For our current show, Factory Installed, we all had the opportunity to spend time with the amazing Mariana Manhães.

Mariana joined us all the way from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, but we all felt like we knew her well before she got here. She was so pumped to install a brand new work at the MF that she blogged about the whole process before she ever set foot on MF soil.

From here to there, Mariana documented sending her materials across continents on her blog

Hanging with an MF artists isn't always quite what you think it will be. Our artists transport their lives to Pittsburgh and we do our best to make them feel quite at home. We do everything from helping them settle in at our residency housing to taking them to the grocery store.


But enough about grocery stores, let's look at the art. Check out this brand-spanking new video of Mariana speaking about the work she created for our show Factory Installed, Thesethose:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quirky Gifts from your Favorite Quirky Museum

Hello friends, MF Sam here. It’s that time of year again… [cue snowflakes] time to drink hot chocolate, unpack your toasty mittens and wrap goodies up in brown paper packages tied up with string.  Here at the MF Shop, we’ve been decking the halls with the traditional holiday moose and technicolor tree. We’ve also gathered tons of items to bring holiday cheer!

First off, stocking stuffers. We’ve got mechanical wind ups (top left), cheeky recycled cuffs (top center), handmade keychain creatures (top right), an awesome selection of ornaments (bottom left), stack-able tops (bottom center) as well as the gift that keeps on giving: bamboo toothbrushes (bottom right)!

We also have a seriously great selection of gifts, here are some of my favorites:

Queen Bee handbags (top left), organic animal pillows (top center), odd-ball shirts (top right), fish leather earrings (middle left), contemporary art books (middle center), retro inspired clocks (middle right), artist designed plates (bottom left), pinhole cameras (bottom center), and yours truly wearing thread bundle necklaces.

If you still have some holiday shopping to do (I know I do) then come check out the Mattress Factory shop (either here at the museum or online)!* Better yet, bring the whole family to check out the Factory Installed show, and while your loved ones are experiencing the Turrell floor, come scoop them up a great gift. For all you bargain hunters, we will have a sale table set up throughout December.

I hope everyone has a safe and lovely holiday season, as well as a fabulous new year!

                                                                                                        – Sam

*Don't forget, a portion of every purchase you make in the MF Shop supports our exhibition and education programs. Feel good shopping.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good Gravy, It's Family Day!

As usual the Mattress Factory will be hosting its yearly Black Friday Family Day on November 25th from 11am-4pm (the day after Thanksgiving)! Avoid the shopping crowds and enjoy not one, but TWO fantastic exhibitions in our galleries and hands-on art activities for the whole family in our lobby. 

We are especially excited this year that visitors can experience artists’ work from (literally) all over the world. Sites of Passage, an exhibit on contemporary Egyptian life and art—from the perspectives of American and Egyptian artists—can be found in our annex building.  Special guest, Sites of Passage Curator, Tavia La Follette will give a guided tour of the exhibit at 1pm (first come, first serve—space is limited).  At 2pm, Gary HuckFirefly Tunnel participant and political cartoonist—will host a drop-in collage-cartooning workshop until 4pm in the museum’s lobby. All ages and types are welcome! 

 Join Gary Huck for his drop-in
collage-cartooning workshop on 11/25/11!

Visitors can also take in the museum’s newest exhibition, Factory Installed--brand new site-specific installations by 5 artists (from 5 different countries) in our galleries at 500 Sampsonia Way. Join us all day for a lobby activity based on Pablo Valbuena’s mind-bending installation, Para-Site [mattress factory].

Pablo Valbuena standing in front of his installation, Para-Site [mattress factory]
Also in our lobby will be our newest education project, Tamatebako. Created by Japanese artist Yumi Kori, Tamatebako is a portable, fabric room for experiencing space. See it at the MF before it is lent to the Children’s Museum for the entire month of December.

 MF Shannon (right) and I (left) try out Tamatebako

Of course as always, discover (or perhaps revisit) our noteworthy permanent collection works in both buildings, grab a bite to eat in our café, and indulge in a bit of holiday shopping in our unique museum store.

Hope to see you all there!

PS: I heard a rumor that there MAY be a complimentary hot chocolate bar and stamp-your-own holiday wrap station as well…. Just sayin'!

Mattress Factory Education and Outreach programs are supported by the Allegheny Regional Assets District, Milton and Sally Avery Art Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Jack Buncher Foundation, the Grable Foundation, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, PNC Charitable Trusts, and the Surdna Foundation.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

516 Sampsonia Way is underway!

We hope you'll join us this Thursday, November 10th at 10am for a groundbreaking celebration of our newest exhibition space – 516 Sampsonia!
516 Sampsonia with the main galleries at 500 Sampsonia in the background

The Mattress Factory is currently renovating an 1890 Victorian-era row house and vacant lot located at 516 & 518 Sampsonia Way. By the end of summer, we'll will have an additional 2,500 square feet of space for more exhibitions and programs.

"It really does give us a much more flexible schedule so that there should be always something interesting to see. We love the fabric of this neighborhood. We love the idea of keeping this old building, not tearing it down, not building something that would be more appropriate."

                             -Michael Olijnyk, Co-Director, as quoted by William Loeffler, Tribune-Review

Watch the retrofitting progress here:

Groundbreaking Celebration
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Coffee and pastries will be available
Free and open to everyone

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It was such a RAD day

This past Sunday the MF joined it's fellow Pittsburgh institutions and opened up it's doors to the public for free as part of RADical Days.

Our little museum was packed full of friendly faces (more than 600 of 'em!) and we couldn't have loved it more.

Dotted boxes were everywhere as visitors took part in an ARTLab activity based on "Sites of Passage" artist Mostafa Sleem's piece Mind Area "Sound of the Sound."

Local artist and MF friend Rose Clancy brought her group exhibition Your Place at the Banquet to the 4th floor of the museum in the form of delicious soup and Kevin Clancy's awesome mobile food stations.

Folks braved the rain and made their way down the block to our satellite space at 1414 Monterey to check out our latest exhibition "Sites of Passage."

As everyone's faces could tell you, it was a pretty rad day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New BoxSpring Café Hours!

 We are happy to let you know that the BoxSpring Café is now open every day the Museum is open! 
Tuesday - Saturday 11am-4pm and now Sunday 1-4pm!

MF Lynn is ready to tempt you with delicious treats. 
And fruit. But who wants fruit when there are treats around?

The Sunday menu:

Friday, September 16, 2011


The directions read: "Evidence of human learning. Please contribute."

To find out what this means, stop by our monthly ARTlab in the lobby of the Mattress Factory between 1-4pm tomorrow, Saturday, September 17, 2011.

Hint: This ARTlab activity is inspired by "Sites of Passage" artist Mostafa Sleem's piece Mind Area "Sound of the Sound" :

Where: Mattress Factory lobby
When: 1-4pm, Saturday, September 17, 2011
Who: Open to all
Cost: Free

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sights of Summer

Summer is over. School is back in session. The sun is setting a little earlier each night.

MF Shop Coordinator, Sam Ditch, snapped these photos of our Community Garden Party on June 19, 2011, with her phone camera and I think they really capture the essence of summer.

You'll catch me viewing this slide show in the middle of snowy and gray January daydreaming of hula-hoops and sprinklers.

Farewell summer. I'll miss you.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hangin' out at Lake Liz for Art Outdoors

Thursday, September 1st, is the final day of Art Outdoors for 2011.

Every Thursday during the summer, the MF Education Department has set up shop in West Park near Lake Elizabeth on the Northside. We've offered a range of different hands-on activities related to the outdoors and art each week. We partnered with Venture Outdoors and Kayak Pittsburgh for this unique program – thanks to them and for everyone involved* in helping provide free weekly programs for all ages. You'll find us under the blue tent next to Kayak Pittsburgh's unmistakable yellow kayaks (and, yes, you can try your hand at paddling on the little lake for free).

The summer has flown by, so if you haven't had a chance to stop by yet, we hope to see you tomorrow (Lake Liz, 4-6pm, free). For encouragement, we leave you with a few photos from this summer's activities, including a photo of our lovely Director of Education, Liz Keller, and Museum Educator, Gian Carlos, making their way to the Lake via the Mattress Factory staff's favorite form of transportation: bicycling!

Liz and Gian in the MF parking lot heading out to Art Outdoors last Thursday

The Aviary makes magic happen for our 2nd annual Art Outdoors dove release

Kayak Pittsburgh is on hand to teach you how to paddle

Don't want to get wet? Head over to the MF art tent and get creative

Nothing like chillin' in a boat in an urban setting

*Mattress Factory Education and Outreach programs are supported by the Allegheny Regional Assets District, the Grable Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Friday, August 19, 2011

David Conrad + Ice Cream = Supporting the MF

Do you like ice cream?
Mmmmm, ice cream. Photo: Mr. T in DC
Do you like handsome men?

Actor and arts supporter David Conrad (We just couldn't resist the pink hearts!)

Do you like supporting the Mattress Factory?

If you answered yes to the above questions, then Saturday, August 27th, will be your lucky day. Through the generosity of Life'sWork / Ben & Jerry's PartnerShop in Squirrel Hill, you will be able to support the Mattress Factory by stopping by the PartnerShop from 12-9pm and purchasing any ice cream deliciousness and presenting the coupon below – 20% of your purchase will benefit the Mattress Factory. For even more sweetness, if you swing by the ice cream shop between the hours of 1 through 5pm, you'll get to meet the charming and dashing (and Mattress Factory board member) David Conrad!

See you next Saturday!

Psst! Want more art and more David Conrad? You'll be able to catch the exhibition he's been working on over in Braddock, The Lost Pittsburgh School.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Factory 500 Member Tour: July 23, 2011

Every few months, the Factory 500 members at the Mattress Factory get together for a night to discover new artist studios, galleries, unique businesses and homes in the area. On July 23rd, the group toured several places in the Strip District and Lower Lawrenceville, getting a taste of hard cider and craft cheese as well as seeing custom concrete and current exhibitions. It was a great evening!

Janet McCall, Executive Director, explains some of the history behind Society for Contemporary Craft.

The Factory 500 members look at the current exhibition, Bridge 11: Lia Cook, Mariko Kusumoto, Anne Drew Potter.

The group arrived at 6 pm for the first stop at Society for Contemporary Craft on Smallman street in the Strip District. The members heard about the history of the establishment from Janet MaCall, Executive Director, and about some of the current exhibitions from Director of Exhibitions, Kate Lydon. The group was able to enjoy some food and drink while exploring the education workshops, galleries, and gift shop.

Paul explains some of the methods they use to create their work.

A counter top on display in the Outlaw Studios showroom.

The second stop for the evening was Outlaw Studios, also in the Strip District. Outlaw Studios prides itself on creating custom architectural concrete work for both indoor and outdoor spaces, in homes and businesses alike. Paul Kubis, one of the two founding members, explained the business idea began in 2003. In 2005, Paul and his business partner formed Outlaw Studios and moved to a 10,000 square foot studio in the Strip District. Paul spoke to the group and gave us a tour of his showroom during the evening.

The members gather around in Arsenal Cider House for a hard cider tasting.

Bill Larkin speaks to the group about their hard cider.

Next, the tour took the group to Arsenal Cider House and Wine Cellar, Inc., at 300 39th Street in Lower Lawrenceville. Owned by Bill and Michelle Larkin, they have made a name for themselves brewing hard cider. As a thematic Civil War-era winery, Arsenal Cider House brews their own hard cider, as well making other period drinks and sorbet. Their flavors change often, from peach and blueberry to white grape. Their menu and store reflect the history of the nearby Arsenal Park, and their drinks have been featured in restaurants and bars across Pittsburgh.

Jonathan invites the group into his home to try some craft cheese.
The Cannonball Curds made at Arsenal Cheese.

The fourth and last stop for the evening's tour was Arsenal Cheese, started by Jonathan Gaugler and his wife, Becky. Located at 274 Fisk Street in Lawrenceville, Jonathan makes craft cheese in his home and distributes it to businesses and restaurants around Pittsburgh. You can read a little bit about them in a Post-Gazette article here. Jonathan gave the group a sample of his Cannonball Curds, a cheese that he makes from start to finish.

Thank you to all our hosts for this Factory 500 member tour! The evening was full of delicious food, drink and conversation. For more pictures of the evening, visit the Mattress Factory on Flickr.

Factory 500 members are invited to join these tour ever few months. For information on Factory 500 memberships you can visit us online or you can give Abby a call at 412-231-3169.

See you all at the next Factory 500 event!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Stray Birds Sunrise Performance

This morning Michael Pestel and Kudo Taketeru performed a mesmerizing performance at sunrise. There was a thick mist in the air and you could see the steam evaporating from Kudo's body. Not only did the mist obscure our usual view of downtown Pittsburgh skyscrapers, but of some of the neighboring houses as well. When he exhaled slowly, we could see his breath. As the sun rose, the foggy dew lifted and shifted the mood of the performance awakening the bird within.
Photos by Clif Page

Without a doubt, one of my favorite aspects of this morning's performance was the Northside neighbor walking by. She appeared to be on her way to or from work complete with headphones in and sporting her hospital scrubs. The woman nearly jumped back when she realized she was walking only a few feet away from Kudo's dance performance. She lingered for a few minutes and even started video-recording him with her phone. What an amazing juxtaposition of routine and spectacle.
 A passerby stops to record the performance

There will be another performance at 2pm today (7/9/11) and a final performance on Friday, July 15th, at 8pm for sunset. Join us.


The following is an explanation of butoh dance and birdsound from Michael Pestel:

"Butoh and Birds 

Butoh is a modern Japanese dance-and-movement form. Taketeru Kudo, currently in residence at the Mattress Factory  is one of the most acclaimed performers of the new generation of butoh. His movements are unusually fluid and frequently compared to those of a bird, something uncommon in the nether world of butoh kinesthetics. We are here, along with several others, to explore the world of birds in sound and movement and to communicate with them. Workshops for children and adults are ongoing from June 20-July 8 from 1-3:00 p.m.. Performances take place weekly through July 15th. Please see Mattress Factory and Aviary websites for details. 

Performing with Kudo - an avian ghost - is not easy. It requires fierce concentration at the razor edge of emotions and a whimsical sense of humor. This is butoh the way we approach it: Kudosan in avian motion and the musicians in birdsong and squawk. Nothing is choreographed or planned except for the meticulous absence of planning. Just like the birds. 

Decisions for movement and sound emerge from raw feeling – gut-wrenching, lice-scratching, satyr-prancing revelations cut as if through onion strata into circling layers of tears, laughter and stillness. Just like the solitary kookaburra at the National Aviary crying and laughing inside its cage, our cycles of emotion start and stop ceaselessly. Or like the flamingos in the Wetlands Exhibit honking back and forth, back and forth, then suddenly spreading wings, preening, walking silently, elegantly, honking some more, we too follow our impulses uncensored. 

Unlike ballet or the kind of modern dance that seeks to defy gravity, Kudo's attempts at flying are quickly aborted and stumble clip-winged to the ground. He then resumes immediately his flights of fancy, trying again and again to lift off of human ground. Everything collapses and rises in an exquisitely ordered sense of the unpredictable only to finally expire, escape or fade out in an incremental, even excremental, decrescendo of exhaustion. 

We are told that such extreme dialectics emerged out of Japan’s postwar crisis - from Truman’s bombs - and that butoh was formed directly from the ashes of the Emperor’s undecipherable surrender. Since capitalism has merely redirected Japanese military discipline, as well as a horrific sense of loss, into the vicious cycle of consumer production and consumption, the crisis which butoh confronted sixty years ago remains more or less the same today – or perhaps more stuck in the Japanese craw, indeed the global craw, than ever. 

Now bombs have become leaking nuclear plants. And by the end of this century, many hundreds of bird species around the world will join the swelling list of extinctions caused by us humans. The National Aviary's conservation efforts will go into overdrive. We are all in this together. 

One could say that the butoh musicians’ approach to sound is similar to Kudo’s approach to movement. There is the emotional dialog and the sudden bursts of arhythmical playing mixed with steady syncopation. In terms of bird sound, the sweet dulcet song of our “yellow warblers” might turn suddenly into a flock of “snarling pterodactyls” – if indeed they snarled – and then return, just as quickly, to the joyous task of warbling. Rather than merely supporting or chaperoning the other, however, Kudo and the musicians prod and poke each other beyond superficial points of synchrony into more complex states of cacophony, chaos and unity. 

Just like the birds."  

-Michael Pestel, June 2011

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dove Release: Liz's favorite day of the year

Tomorrow is Liz's favorite day of the year. Head over to Lake Elizabeth in West Park at 4pm tomorrow (Thursday, July 7, 2011) and see why:
Dove release thanks to our friends – both bird and human – from the Aviary

Education Coordinator Shannon shared this morning, "Last year during the dove release, Liz was like an innocent child experiencing her very first Christmas morning." Here is photographic proof.

Let's just zoom in on this face of pure joy.

Where: Lake Liz in West Park, Northside, Pittsburgh, PA
When: Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 4pm sharp
Cost: FREE
Who: Everyone is welcome
Thanks: A special thanks to our friends at the National Aviary
Why?: This is just one activity as part of our summer-long Art Outdoors each and every Thursday

Read All Posts by Lindsay