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

Read All Posts by Lindsay

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