Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014 Annual Giving

We love saying yes to artists.

The Mattress Factory is a place like no other--our mission is to support living artists from all around the world as they create room-sized installation art in our three gallery buildings on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Artists come here to experiment, take risks and create art that is only possible at the Mattress Factory.

In 2013 the museum supported new work by 19 regional, national and international artists. Your support makes all the difference!

  • Artist Chiharu Shiota used 500,000 feet of yarn to create Trace of Memory. That's nearly 95 miles of yarn.
  • Pickles and pretzels for snack for our after school program Afternoons @ the Factory cost $50 per week.
  • Over $13,000 worth of concrete was used to complete the renovation of our newest gallery on 516 Sampsonia Way.
  • Our hot chocolate bar on Family Day runs up a tab of $75.

Every donation, big or small, helps us say yes to artists. With your support the Mattress Factory will continue to give artists the space, resources, freedom and permission to create.

So donate today, because even a little helps us say yes to a lot.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Once Upon a Mattress…Turrell, History & the Artists of Tomorrow

Mattress Factory brochure for James Turrell: Into the Light
In celebration of several recent of James Turrell exhibitions, the Mattress Factory took you, dear blog reader, on a trip down memory lane.  Along the way, we reminisced about Turrell's first meeting with Co-Directors Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk in a New York City cab, peered through the lens of 1983 video camera to watch Turrell building artworks, delved deep into the scientific processes that contribute to experience of Pleiaedes, and rode along as Turrell, Barbara, and Michael rambled across the country in aU-haul with a broken-down Jaguar hitched to the back.  We saw how the trio's immediate chemistry launched a catalytic partnership resulting in new artworks, new collaborations, and the ultimate validation of the Mattress Factory's primary mission of supporting artists' creative processes above all else.

In the years following that fateful cab ride, Turrell accomplished a tremendous amount of work on Roden Crater and created artworks for museums and private collections across the world.  During those same years, the Mattress Factory launched numerous successful exhibitions highlighting artworks made by regional, national, and international artists.  As the Mattress Factory's 25th anniversary approached, it felt natural to reconnect with Turrell, to touch base, and to celebrate the milestone together.  This celebration took the form of a large-scale, yearlong exhibition of works titled James Turrell: Into the Light.

Dinner menu for Dust to Dawn, a 24-hour opening 
celebration for James Turrell: Into the Light
James Turrell: Into the Light, which opened in 2002, was the largest exhibition of Turrell artworks on the East Coast since the Whitney Museum show in 1980.  Combined with the three works in the permanent collection, the Mattress Factory presented twelve installations, models of Roden Crater, and a series of prints based on the light and space of Roden Crater.  Open for an entire year, the show provided an opportunity to familiarize patrons with Turrell's work and to build an extended dialogue around pieces then usually held in private collections or on view for a limited periods of time.  The museum opened the exhibit in grand style, with a 25-hour party.

Barbara and Michael selected Gasworks, an older example of Turrell’s Perceptual Cells series, in order to showcase a vast range of his work with light.  It was the first time the artwork had been exhibited east of the Mississippi.  A self-contained sphere into which a viewer is rolled, Gasworks presents neon lights timed to flash on the domed interior walls, creating an intense Ganzfeld, an experience of light as a homogenous visual field.
Gasworks as installed at the Mattress Factory.  Photo by Florian Holzer.
Gasworks is one of my personal favorite Turrell works, in part because we have so many cool tidbits relating to this work in the Mattress Factory Archives.  These materials speak to the sometimes arduous task of planning and executing projects intended to expand awareness of and appreciation for works of contemporary art. Here are a few examples of historical documentation of the James Turrell: Into the Light exhibit housed in the Mattress Factory Archives.

Domes for Gasworks arrived on a wide-load truck from Arizona and required a 10-man crew to carry into the lobby
Operating Instructions for James Turrell's Gasworks at the Mattress Factory

Extra, unused labels for Gasworks at the Mattress Factory
James Turrell with Gasworks on opening night of the exhibition
During the James Turrell: Into the Light exhibit, the museum presented numerous public events to facilitate discussion from a variety of viewpoints.  Speakers from many different backgrounds and with wide-ranging areas of expertise (including scientists, curators, artists, health professionals, Zen reverends, poets and archeoastonomists) shared their thoughts and engaged with audience members throughout the year-long exhibit.
Public Programs Brochure for James Turrell: Into the Light
Public events surrounding the exhibit brought the attention to the act of seeing
Many James Turrell: Into the Light public programs were free to the public

 ARTLab at the Mattress Factory
The Mattress Factory continues to engage audiences with the James Turrell works in the museum's permanent collection. ARTLab occurs every first and third Saturday and provides hands-on, interactive activities for all ages inspired by the works in our galleries. Much as our Mattress Factory artists have a chance to experiment with new materials and ideas in a space, we also want to give ARTLab visitors the experience of playing in a lab and exploring their creativity.

This past June, ARTLab participants sculpted with light by creating projection slides and played with the elusive material of light. Participants worked with color and perception as they created small slides that were projected onto the wall or into various spaces (much as Catso, Red is also a projection). James Turrell says that his work is "sculpting with light" and the ARTLab was an opportunity for visitors to play with this same idea.

Kids having fun creating light spaces with black light
An ARTLab artist with her creation
Another recent ARTLab inspired students to create collages and objects to be placed in a black-light booth. Inside the black-light booth, the collages and objects shine and glow in different, unexpected ways and the students experimented with their compositions to achieve a desired effect.  Works of art can take on a whole new character once placed in the light - and this project helped to deepen the students' understanding of the properties of light and how it can impact an experience with art.

As you can see, the history of collaboration, support, and inspiration between James Turrell and the Mattress Factory is carrying on to the artists and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.  Check the MF Website to see what the Education Department is planning next!

As much fun as it has been to dig back into the history of the collaborations between James Turrell and the Mattress Factory, there are so many other treasures and stories to tell that we'll shift gears in our next post.  Let us know if there is any artwork you're curious about and I'll see what we can dig up from the Archives.  Until then...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December 7th: ARTLab & Animated Films

December7th Events:  ARTLab: Time for Music, and Animated Films by Ladislaw Starewicz with Original Live Music Performed by Little Bang Theory

Besides helping us keep track of when we need to wake up, to go to work, what day of the week to take out the trash and recycling (I ALWAYS forget the recycling), and when dinner is, have you ever stopped to think what this arbitrary thing called time is? Why is it important? How is it related to art, especially music? Can we stop time and turn music into a still, visual image? Join us on Saturday, December 7th, from 1-4pm as we experiment with making visual art and music while contemplating time, as inspired by the work of Detroit artist Frank Pahl in the Mattress Factory’s current show, Detroit: Artists in Residence.

Frank Pahl, musician and visual artist, created an installation for the Mattress Factory that blends both music, time, and visual representation--a work that he hopes allows viewers to meditate on different aspects of time. 1913 Revisited in Three Parts refers to three events in history that Pahl interprets as significant changes in the way humans measure and perceive time:  the invention of Henry Ford’s Assembly Line--which hugely impacted industry and the economy; the global synchronization of time--an event that happened via telegraph from the Eiffel Tower and brought the whole world to follow one standard measurement of time; and the premiere of Stravinsky’s composition and ballet, Rite of Spring--about a pagan ritual of a young girl dancing herself to death to ensure the coming of spring, an extremely controversial piece of music in it’s time for it’s dissonant notes. For Pahl, these three events illustrate the relationship between Chronos and Kairos, words referring to ancient greek concepts of time. Chronos refers to chronological and measured time, while Kairos refers to a significant present moment, or a more organic concept of time. The invention of the assembly line and the global synchronization of time embody Chronos, and Kairos is embodied by Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Using hanging wheels, lighting, automated musical instruments, and time itself, his work contemplates the consequences of perceiving and operating in the world through the quality of Chronos versus the quality of Kairos.

One could see the concepts of Chronos and Kairos as different conceptual tools we use to make sense of the stories of our lives and history of the world. Chronos may be used to order events and understand cause and effect, while the awareness of the present moment, and the significance of any action in the present moment, could be the faculty of Kairos. We can also use these concepts in creation of art. In fact, we have no choice--the process of making art takes time, as with anything else! In this ARTLab, visitors will make their own musical instruments from found objects and contemplate their personal relationship to music, art, and time. The creation and use of these musical instruments could also include storytelling, performance, history, or a contemplation of creating art itself. As always, ARTLab is FREE with museum admission and all are welcome to participate!

Since you’ll be thinking very deeply about time during the ARTLab, you’ll also want to note that at 7pm the Mattress Factory will host a special event that happens to be very pleasantly related to the ARTLab concepts of art, music and time:  An Evening of Animated Films & Live Music. With stop-motion animated films by Ladislaw Starewicz and original live music performed entirely on children's instruments by Little Bang Theory (featuring Frank Pahl) this event promises to be a very dynamic and entertaining experience for all ages. Tickets are $15, $10 for museum members. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Ladislaw Starewicz, The Cameraman's Revenge, 1912

Little Bang Theory at Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, 2012