Friday, June 28, 2013

Soul Factory: Motown at the Museum -- A HUGE success!

Nearly 1,400 party-goers boogied into the night under the main tent at the 2013 Urban Garden Party.
Photo by Bridgett Kay Photography

Last Friday night nearly 1,400 people turned out to make merry and boogie down on the North Side. The tent was rocking and the garden was packed! Mash ups by The Gaff and DJ Zimmie soared through the balmy air and hoards of Pittsburgh's grooviest art supporters shimmied and shook into the night. After tallying up all of our ticket sales and sponsor pledges, we brought in a whopping $260,000 for the museum. That is the most we've ever raised in the Urban Garden Party's 16-year history, and it's all thanks to you!

Some of the coverage we have received to date:

"Its reputation preceding itself, the 2013 Urban Garden Party lived up to all expectations by unleashing a torrent of glorious celebration that left its mark on 1,300 who traded convention for a night unlike any other." -Kate Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

"So began an evening that is the envy of every nonprofit in town, a bash that's pure fun and still made $250,000 thanks to chairs Anuj and Anne Nemer Dhanda." -Marylynn Uricchio, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

WPXI's See and Be Seen, Urban Garden Party held at Mattress Factory

Mattress Factory Co-Director Barbara Luderowski, Chairman of the Board Michael White and Co-Director Michael Olijnyk

Our photographers were roving the party all night and we're uploading pictures to Flickr as we get them. We would also love your submissions to our group pool with the tag ugp2013. Or tweet your pics to @mattressfactory using #soulfactory. If you had your picture taken in our photo booth at the party, your pictures are here.

Finally, a big heartfelt Mattress Factory THANK YOU to our co-chairs Anne + Anuj Dhanda. We could not have thrown the hottest party in Pittsburgh without the help of our co-chairs, who not only know how to steer a party-planning committee, they also know how to get down! We are so grateful to the Dhandas and all of our sponsors for their incredible support this year. Make sure to help us thank our sponsors by seeking them for any of the professional services they provide. 

Party co-chairs Anuj (left) and Anne (right) Dhanda shake it with a go-go dancer

Keep an eye out on our website for the announcement of next year's Urban Garden Party date!
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Thursday, June 27, 2013


As Pittsburgh moves into warmer and sunnier weather, consider visiting one of the Mattress Factory's outdoor projects: Rose Clancy's GardenLab@510. This summer marks the fourth year that Clancy has worked with abandoned sites neighboring the Mattress Factory. GardenLab@510 is the second of two reclaimed spaces that Clancy has used to explore the relationship between neglect and nurture. Clancy experiments using aspects of archeology, gardening, sculpture, and her personal history. In the spirit of the Mattress Factory's focus on how a site influences how an artwork is developed, Clancy reflected on how her more recent GardenLab@510 has evolved:

Originally, the GardenLabs project began when I transplanted potatoes from a former project to 516. Once GardenLab@516 ended, I made elements of that project portable and moved them to 510. During GardenLab@510's first year, I observed the natural conditions of the site and then worked with those conditions to maximize the success of a garden in that space. I also kept some of the elements that already existed in that space: some plants and some man-made items. In contrast to 516, the garden at 510 is not completely enclosed. This has allowed for more community access: there have been tours, an ArtLab performance with children dressed as bees, and many impromptu conversations with neighbors passing by. As this became apparent to me, I wanted to show appreciation to my neighbors so I grew communal herbs. This year's focus at 510 is on the garden as a studio. I'll be making work in a bean house that will house a workbench. Some of the work that I make could make its way back into the community...

Clancy works with aspects of gardening, but she does not consider herself a gardener. She makes choices in her GardenLabs primarily on how: elements can be metaphors for her personal history, how plants respond to being neglected or nurtured, and also how the community responds to the plants and overall project. While Clancy highlights the conceptual aspects of her GardenLabs, she recognizes that she is working with actual plants in a real neighborhood and that she must be sensitive to how this ecosystem evolves. Her choices affect nature and the neighborhood, and their evolution affects the practical and conceptual choices in her artmaking. Clancy invites visitors to stop by anytime, but encourages people to make more than one trip since the space changes so much from week-to-week.

Check out images of GardenLab@510 on Rose Clancy's Facebook page.

Monday, June 17, 2013


This is the first in a series of posts drawn from our archive. We are working on digitizing and integrating materials like artist records, photos, correspondence, video + audio files, notes and pieces of art into our website, and along the way our archivist Molly will be pulling out some extra-special items to share with us. First up is the ever-enchanting James Turrell, who was featured in the cover story of this week's The New York Times Magazine

Way back in the early 1980s, when the Pac-Man, Dallas, and astronaut Sally Ride absorbed the attention of the nation, the Mattress Factory was in its formative stage. Experimental theater companies performed on the first floor, a dance studio occupied the third floor, and the 500 Sampsonia Way building buzzed with sculptors, weavers, and photographers coming and going from the studios that occupied all six floors. In those days the museum, which had yet to dedicate itself completely to installation and performance work, rented its extra rooms to artists seeking studio space.

 Mattress Factory flier, circa 1980

Mattress Factory third floor dance studio, circa 1980
artist studio, Mattress Factory, circa 1980

I love thinking about the museum during this period and imagining how the principles that guide the Mattress Factory today were beginning to take root. When word began to circulate about an amazing exhibition being held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, founder and co-director Barbara and co-director Michael decided to call the artist up. Just like that. Recalling the episode in a 2002 interview Barbara states:
I think I made some smart remark like, "Well, now that you've had a show at the Whitney, you have to have a show at the Mattress Factory." He said, "Fine."
And so it happened that the nascent Mattress Factory museum brought James Turrell, one of contemporary art's leading stars and visionaries, to Pittsburgh. Looking back on that phone call now, it marks a significant turning point in the history of the museum--a moment when the ideas, energy, and entrepreneurial spirit coalesced to set in motion the creation of the museum we know today as the Mattress Factory.

James Turrell exhibition brochure, front cover

The three (Barbara, Michael and Turrell) met up on a street corner in New York City (vaguely recalled today as somewhere in Tribeca), piled into a cab, and made arrangements for Turrell to come to the Mattress Factory to make an artwork. It is likely that Turrell had no knowledge of the Mattress Factory when he agreed to the exhibit; there had only been three previous shows at that point and the artists were mostly from the Pittsburgh community. Asked later why he agreed so readily, he said that there was "just something there--a sense of trust about doing the show."

James Turrell exhibition brochure, 1983

In our next installment, we'll dig through some archival video of Turrell at the Mattress Factory, watch as the friendship between the museum and the artist takes root, and peer back into the Pittsburgh art scene of the time.

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