Wednesday, December 30, 2015

RECAP // Best of Instagram 2015!

What a year it's been! A lot has happened at the Mattress Factory, and what better way to remember it all than to embrace the nostalgia and reminisce with all the awesome pictures taken by visitors this year. The #mattressfactory hashtag has over 7,500 posts now (only a few of those are actually mattress related)! We thank you all for your continued support of the museum, and for documenting your visits so beautifully via Instagram. So here's to you MF visitors - our favorite Mattress Factory photos of the year!

Permanent Installations

photo creds: @petra_palumnbo, @paigebeers,, @ecervantez, @jendingding, @erinhollywould

@412made, @davidsciortino, @ainemarielaff, @mzicka, @ofkrista

@santi1916, @gregoryoleander, @ueckerist, @sluna7, @stripedarchitect

@codymsolberg, @pswansong, @cecilopezgonzalezduran, @marnieweberofficial, @santi1916, @steven_werth

Trace of Memory
by Chiharu Shiota
@kaela_speicher, @saracals, @moeian, @instakneels, @alk5161

Dinner Lab, M is for Mattress Factory: Urban Garden Party, and an MF Wedding
@ginana17, @jeshaka, @mrbattle, @gavinbenjamin

Mattress Factory Views
@wanderburgher, @conormcgrann

Fun @ the Museum
@themightykim, @lordhissyfit, @kainazamaria, @ljhotojourneys, @heidimariemuller, @ayedud

That's all for this year folks! Don't forget to follow us on the Mattress Factory Instagram, and keep using the #mattressfactory tag in all your 2016 MF adventures for your chance to be featured as a guest photo on our account!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

RECAP // ARTLab with Julie Schenkelberg

Last week we had a blast breaking plates and saucers at ARTLab! We were inspired by Julie Schenkelberg's piece on view at our gallery at 1414 Monterey Street, The Color of Temperance, Embodied Energy. Just as the artist did, visitors took a turn at breaking plates and then everyone helped to rearrange the broken pieces of the plates to give them new life in a collaborative installation.

The next ARTLab program is one for the holidays! On December 19, we will be creating scribble-machine wrapping paper for holiday present! The Mattress Factory Winter Art Market will also be in full swing, so you can wrap up your hand-made purchases with one-of-a-kind wrapping paper too.

ARTLab is a drop-in, hands-on interactive program for all ages.

Monday, December 14, 2015

RECAP // Mini-Factory: OPPOSITES

OPPOSITES attract... curious minds willing to explore, compare and talk about their surroundings! Mini-Factory dove head first into the world of OPPOSITES using Allan Wexler's Bed Sitting Rooms for an Artist in Residence this past weekend.

Vanessa Sica + Chris Kasabach have fun with Umbrella, an upside down umbrella serving as a light inside the gallery. How many OPPOSITES can you find in that piece?

Artists use OPPOSITES to invoke laughter, wit and reflection about the function of every day objects. As viewers, we take a second look, a second thought and perhaps the sparks of creativity shake up the routine of life for even just a moment.

Visiting Gene Highstein's piece Untitled also provided our intrepid group of artists an opportunity for learning more about OPPOSITES.

How did such a big piece get inside such a small room? It looks heavy and solid, but is actually light and hollow! Using our hands to explore, our group made some excellent observations and then put it to the test; taking a rough piece of wood, we created the OPPOSITE effect with sandpaper - smooth!

Inkblot art was the perfect way to wrap up our hour together! Paint on one side of your paper and fold in half to create the OPPOSITE design.

Mini-Factory is an interactive learning program for children ages 3-5 and a parent/caregiver. Using contemporary installation art, parents and children will explore new ideas and concepts from the everyday world. Join us on January 9 for Mini-Factory: STORIES!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Date with Lisa Sigal

"Being commissioned here has been one of the best experiences I've had." - Lisa Sigal

Factory Installed artist Lisa Sigal began her Saturday morning Coffee Date sharing her experience at the Mattress Factory's artist-in-residence program. As an artist who has shown works at the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA P.S.1, The International Biennial in New Orleans, and participated in artist residencies across the nation, Lisa was able to reflect on the aspects of the Mattress Factory that set it apart.

"Usually at art institutions, they say 'Here are the parameters, the limitations, the budget," Lisa explained. "But here, when I asked 'What are the limitations?,' the answer was 'we don't usually tell you - we start with the vision and we work from there.'"

With a smile, Lisa continued, "Nothing was out of the question." In such an environment, she felt she could experiment more freely, without having to articulate each step of the process or be too afraid of making mistakes.

The conversation soon shifted towards the inspirations and concepts that Lisa explored in her work "Break it Down." She explained that she wanted to "flip the terms" and make the typically unseen (walls, sheet rock, and other architectural barriers) seen. The artist described her piece as a more "minimal" and "elegant" exploration of formal elements compared to her previous works. However, it still grew out of her interests in the architecture and structures underlying social spaces.

In particular, Lisa highlighted "Burning," a public art installation she created at Propect.3 New Orleans. She was interested in the blighted houses as structures underlying the social inequalities of the New Orleans neighborhood, but also wanted to create a work sensitive to the local community. The final piece involved displaying text fragments from the play "Burning" by Suzan-Lori Parks on the exteriors of vacant homes, allowing passersby to read the unfolding story as they walk by.

This was the last edition of this year's Coffee Date series! Thank you to everyone who attended and made these discussions such warm and friendly meetings. This Member-Exclusive series will continue next year with our next artists-in-residence. We hope to see you all again soon!

For more information or to become a member and attend the Coffee Dates series, please visit

Monday, November 23, 2015

PREVIEW // Family Day 2015

Looking for something to do after you've had your share of turkey and stuffing? Want something the whole family can enjoy after some early morning shopping? Join us for Family Day, on November 27th from 11am - 4pm! Activities will be located in the museum lobby @ 500 Sampsonia Way and are FREE with museum admission.

Make a patterned sphere medallion inspired by Bill Smith's spherodendron.

Imagine and create a movable museum creature that could live comfortably in any one of our installations.

Rob Voerman had the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning in mind when he created his piece, Faculty. Share your very own favorite Pittsburgh architecture by drawing it, sharing a story, or using your imagination to edit, alter and have with the steel city's skyline!

Weave a collaborative string installation with your family. Will you choose to be wild and chaotic like Chiharu Shiota's Trace of Memory? Or are you more orderly and straightforward like Anne Lindberg's Shift Lens?

Play with light in our mini-factory. Even the youngest guests can participate in exploring shadows, shapes and colors with projectors and flashlights!

Go on an adventure when you explore all three museum buildings with an interactive scavenger hunt. Keep your eyes and ears open and sketch, draw and record your findings.

Enjoy face painting by Rikki and warm up with a free hot cocoa at our hot chocolate bar!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

RECAP // Teen Art Cooperative

The Teen Art Cooperative poses for a photo with artist Thad Mosley outside of his studio in Manchester.
If you come to the Mattress Factory on a Thursday afternoon, you might just see the Teen Art Cooperative in action - making, discussing, dreaming and scheming. Building from the success of the Summer Art Cooperative, this FREE program for high school students is in its first year and currently boasts twelve young artists. during the course of the school year, the teens will have the opportunity to meet with ten different teaching artists for workshops, plan three of their own events, talk with museum staff, and outline and expand upon personal goals.

The Cooperative aims to make the Mattress Factory an open space and a resource for teens in the same way that it is for professional artists. We believe that there are many different and exciting ways to exist as a creative individual in the world, and we want to showcase that. By examining tons of ideas and practices that fall under the umbrella term of art, we hope to provide the teens with more skills and confidence as they begin choosing their own paths and transitioning into life after high school. We think that art jobs are tough jobs, and we want to take them seriously, and make some friends along the way!

Artist Ceci Ebitz demonstrates a method of dyeing fabric with natural materials.

The teens come from high schools all over the city, including Avonworth, CAPA, Chartiers Valley, The Ellis School, Mars Area, Oakland Catholic, Obama Academy, Seneca Valley, and Total Learning Academy. In their first two months, the teens have done all sorts of things. We visited artist Thad Mosley in his studio and learned about his woodcarving and life practices, perfected over the span of seven decades. We planned our first Cooperative event and screen-printed event flyers, under the guidance of Jen Rockage and Lauren Bailey at Artist Image Resource. We learned various ways to dye fabric with natural materials with the help of local artist Cecilia Ebitz. We have made connections and gotten to know each other better. It's just the beginning and we are so excited for what's to come!

Adia Taimuty-Loomis, a junior from Mars Area High School, says that she looks forward to coming to the Cooperative every week. "Coming down here to my favorite art museum every Thursday and spending time with some amazing people is the absolute highlight of my week... Learning about the ways these fellow artists think and work influences my art and makes me a better artist myself. I love learning about the different occupations artists can have by going to places like AIR."

A Co-op teen screen-prints a flyer for their first event in December

Join us for our first event Gala in the Graveyard on December 10 from 6-8 p.m. in the Mattress Factory Lobby at 500 Sampsonia Way. Dress as your favorite departed icon of art or music. Admission is FREE, refreshments and fun activities are provided, and the galleries at 500 Sampsonia Way will be open for you to explore! We hope to see you there.

Friday, November 20, 2015

RECAP // Mini-Factory: FUTURE!

What does the FUTURE look like? What does it hold? Our intrepid group of young artists at the Mattress Factory explored the FUTURE through Rob Voerman's current installation Faculty,now on view through summer 2016.

Using some great children's literature as our jumping-off point, our Mini-Factory program embarked on a journey to the FUTURE with our imagination. Faculty demonstrates one point of view of what can happen when we allow ourselves to be inspired by the built environment. Rob Voerman extrapolates futuristic architecture from the Cathedral of Learning while balancing the concept of discussion and exchange of ideas. Seats and tables have been built into the fabric of the installation for viewers to linger and soak in their surroundings... inspiration takes hold. Built from recycled materials such as cardboard and stained glass, Faculty shows one artist's use of ready-made materials for construction - perhaps the wave of the FUTURE.

After exploring inside and out, we sat down to create our own rendition of FUTURE buildings. Using various recycled materials, students allowed the FUTURE to capture their imagination ... and onwards, forwards, and upwards we went ... with our eyes on the FUTURE.

Mini-Factory is an interactive learning program for children ages 3 - 5 years old and their parents or caregivers. Using contemporary installation art, parents and children will explore new ideas and concepts from the everyday world. Join us at 10am on December 12th for OPPOSITES!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

RECAP // Member Appreciation Week!

We know that members are a vital and vibrant part of the Mattress Factory, which is why from November 3 - 8, the museum held its first ever Member Appreciation Week! The special week-long celebration of our members featured daily events and special deals.

We kicked off the week with special members-only discounts for membership purchases, in the MF Shop, and the MF Café!

On Tuesday, members of all ages explored their creative side during Household Membership Day. Artistic creations included buttons, magnets, and colorful collages.

Members exploring James Turrell's Danaë

Next up was the Hump Day Members Mixer, where members and friends got to explore the museum after-hours through a Scavenger Hunt and exclusive tour of the latest exhibition Factory Installedled by museum Co-Director Michael Olijnyk.

Not to mention a smorgasbord of goodies, including pretzels from The Pretzel Shop and beer courtesy of Penn Brewery!
Members enjoying snacks and drinks @ 500 Sampsonia

On Thursday was the next installment of MF's popular Art + Conversation series, with Factory Installed artist Bill Smith. Members, in addition to their usual free admission to the series, enjoyed complimentary drinks while participating in a discussion between Bill Smith and Eddy Man Kim, a professor at the CMU School of Architecture.

Free Friend Friday - need we say more? Members were able to bring guests to the museum for FREE - what a perfect start to the weekend!

Finally, we wrapped up the week with our Saturday Coffee Date with Bill Smith. Bagels, pastries, donuts, croissants, fruit, a full espresso bar, Zeke's Coffee, and Arnold's Tea ... just to name some of the things served at this breakfast bonanza!

The chat with Bill was similarly a diverse cornucopia of topics, including the intuitive construction of his installation, "spherodendron," x-ray crystallography, and the relationship between science, the arts, and the humanities.

Thank you again to everyone that participated in Member Appreciation Week! Stay tuned for our next members' event on November 21 - a Coffee Date with "Factory Installed" artist Lisa Sigal. RSVP by emailing For more information or to become a member, please visit

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Seeking Artists for the 2015 Winter Art Market!

Calling all Pittsburgh and regional artists! We're selecting artists for the 2nd Annual Winter Art Market and we'd love to see your work. Curated by the MF Shop, this salon-style pop-up marketplace features a range of artistic styles and media. The Market will be open during our two busiest weekends of the year, and will showcase participating artists' work to our museum visitors from around the world!

What you should know before submitting your work:

  • All media considered, all artworks must be display ready
  • All price points considered, though works under $200 are encouraged
  • All artwork must be delivered (either in person or by mail) to the Mattress Factory by Wednesday, December 9
  • The Market will run from Saturday, December 12 - Sunday December 20
  • The Mattress Factory will handle all sales tax and will take a small commission on sold works

INTERESTED? Please email us with the following information:
  • Information about you and your work.
  • A link to your website (if applicable).
  • Images of work you'd like to include in the Market.
    • Artwork dimensions appreciated.
  • A general price range of your work.

All submissions must be received by Friday, November 13.
Questions? Please email the Shop. No calls please.

More images of our 2014 Winter Art Market can be seen HERE.

Monday, October 26, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Date with John Morris

Saturday, October 24, 2015

MF members joined Pittsburgh-based artist John Morris this past Saturday for another edition of the Mattress Factory’s Coffee Date series, where art talk and breakfast treats go hand-in-hand. John Morris’ work “Life, Afterlife” is currently exhibiting at 1414 Monterey Street as part of 2015's Factory Installed exhibition.

John describes himself as a life-long doodler, and “Life, Afterlife” as an evolution of his doodles and earlier two-dimensional drawings. He studied at the Pratt Institute in New York, where he primarily focused on commercial illustration. As his artistic experimentation progressed, he began to see paper as a barrier. His current creative process is the result of eliminating paper and his unique three-dimensional drawing techniques. 

Members discovered that the installation's translucent menagerie of utensils, drooping bottles, and other objects are not made out of glass, but actually acrylic medium. John draws using clear acrylic medium on glass and then peels it off, creating cast objects evocative of “glass antiquities” as one member put it. These objects also respond to gravity, slowly wilting, transforming and distorting over time.
A talented member shares her sketch from the Coffee Date.

Other fascinating tidbits include:
  • It took three weeks for John to install “Life, Afterlife.”
  • Most objects were actually found/created beforehand, and then transported to the Mattress Factory in a cabinet that MF staff member Caitlin Harpster described as a “very orderly, surprising source of chaos.”
  • John’s sources of inspiration over the course of his artistic career range from Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel to Beatriz Milhazes.
Want to learn the insider’s story behind other Mattress Factory art works? Join us for our next Coffee Date on November 7 with Bill Smith! This is a special edition Coffee Date, where a full breakfast bonanza will be served as part of our Member Appreciation Week, a week-long celebration featuring member-exclusive programming and discount prices on memberships!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

RECAP // Factory 500 @ Alloy Pittsburgh at Carrie Furnaces

Armed with steaming cups of hot apple cider, Factory 500members traversed the grounds of the Carrie Furnaces, an unlikely yet striking setting for contemporary installation art. 

Carrie Furnaces, built in 1907, is home to two non-operative blast furnaces that produced iron for Homestead Works up until 1978. Left unmaintained, the site began to show its years with plant overgrowth, rust, and graffiti. Now, as part of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, Carrie Furnaces is undergoing a post-industrial renaissance as a historical, cultural, and artistic center.

Alloy Pittsburgh has led this renaissance with their biannual program, offering 15 artists from the greater Pittsburgh region the opportunity to develop temporary site-based artworks at Carrie Furnaces. Factory 500 members were treated to a tour led by Alloy Pittsburgh co-founders Chris McGinnis and Sean Derry, with artists present to introduce and discuss their own works.

The artworks spoke to the rich history and unique structural environment of Carrie Furnaces.

The crunch of coke coal underneath member's feet carried an eerie note in Sarika Goulatia's work Strength of Stele.
Rose Clancy showed members her process in action. She creates brilliant colors and textures by wrapping and placing objects found on site with white fabric and dousing them with water repeatedly over time.

The tour wrapped up with everyone gathered around a toasty bonfire. That evening, Alloy Pittsburgh held a film screening of Modern Times accompanied by a dinner, which members were invited to attend.

Thank you to everyone who attended the event! Stay tuned for news of our next Factory 500 event.

Factory 500 is the Mattress Factory's premier membership program, chaired by Susan Lammie. The group tours private collections, artist studios, local businesses, and other interesting arts destinations in Pittsburgh several times throughout the year. Don't miss out - Join today! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Date with Anne Lindberg

On Saturday, October 17, MF members escaped the chilly autumn winds for a cozy breakfast chat with artist Anne Lindberg. Anne, whose work "shift lens" is on view now at1414 Monterey Street as part of the 2015 Factory Installed exhibition, shared delightful anecdotes ranging from her experiences at the Mattress Factory to the genesis of her striking thread-installation works.

Members learned that "shift lens" was the first time Anne worked with daylight as an active component of her artwork. The installation process, which took a team of three people and only five days, involved responding to the ever-changing quality of light in the space, through choice of color and placement of thread. Barbara Luderowski and Michael Olijnyk, co-directors of the Mattress Factory, also shared insights into the building’s domestic history.

In between donut bites and sips of pumpkin-spice flavored tea, members peppered Anne with more questions regarding her previous works. One member asked Anne specifically about her 2005 piece Democracy, which drew from the political climate surrounding the Iraq War. Another person asked about her two-dimensional graphite drawings (which actually involve a custom-built 10-foot drawing board!).

Yet another member brought up the synesthetic qualities of "shift lens," which was well highlighted by the recent Art + Conversation, where Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra cellist Mikhail Istomin played a unique accompaniment to Anne's piece.

Interested in asking Mattress Factory artists your own questions? Check out the upcoming Coffee Date with John Morris this coming Saturday, October 24! RSVP by emailing For more information or to become a member, please visit

Coffee and tea was provided courtesy of Zeke’s Coffee and Arnold’s Tea.

Monday, October 19, 2015

ANNOUNCING // "Factory Installed @ 500 Sampsonia Way" Artist Interviews

Factory Installed @ 500 Sampsonia Way has opened. We have brand new artist interviews with exhibiting artists Rob Voerman, Bill Smith, Lisa Sigal and Marnie Weber!

The Mattress Factory Soundcloud page now hosts 34 different audio guides that cover most of our permanent exhibitions, commentary on the museum's history, mission and programming, and artist interviews for the Factory Installed exhibition currently on view at our 1414 Monterey and 500 Sampsonia Way galleries. Here are some highlights of the conversations with exhibiting artists.

"...It is a work based on one of the famous landmarks here in Pittsburgh, the Cathedral of Learning. I was fascinated when I saw it on the internet, that someone initiated such an ambitious project just for functioning of learning and study. So I thought that really fits with the way I work, some installations are really programmed to do workshops, lectures and so... and then I found out about the Nationality Rooms, and I thought let's take some, almost like a fragment of this building and make my own Nationality Room which is not actually a nationality but a bit undescribed. It is a space to reflect and to think also about where we are heading to, how do we engage to future problems, issues... and just also a place to enjoy."

"I started making installations 12 years ago or something and at first it was spaces you could just sit in and sometimes it became a bar. And in recent years  I used them a bit more for engagement. I was always engaged in ecology and politics and all kids of aspects. I noticed that these installations that you can program them, make a side program in and around them based on the content of the works and the context, where the work is. I really like that I can actually use these installations in sometimes not only a safe environment in a museum but also in a public or semi-public space..."

"Well I built a structure that, you know, I just try to build things the way I think nature would build things. And it just happened that I built a round structure that uses materials very efficiently, and it just became a branching structure in 360 degrees... And later, after analyzing it, it's a network, cause everything is interconnected... After I built it, I did some research about networks, and it turns out that there's a lot of networks that... look very similar to the thing I built. Just recently, I got contacted by a network researcher that was putting a textbook together, and they wanted to use a picture of that, in front of a chapter that's related to spreading phenomenon, like the way disease spreads throughout a population... So that was kind of nice that somebody saw it online and recognized it as being representative of some kind of phenomenon like that."

"As far as people, I mean I think I have the best conversations with people off the street... Sometimes you'll get, maybe somebody from a university, that kind of 'poo-poos' it just because it's art, and then you get artists that look at it, and they don't know what's going on. So, I think that's probably the most important people to connect with anyway, is the people off the street, so I'm okay with that... I just got an idea and it's one that I can work with for a long time, so I'm just trying to do something practical... Art isn't just having fun, it's serious... and there's a need for creative people to solve problems, because there are a lot of problems... There's so much need for new ideas these days, and it's so fertile for that, I mean now's the time to do it."

"So when I was asked to do this show at the Mattress Factory I started to think about displacing the walls and lots of the vocabulary that I had been thinking about with imagery, because I have been exploring imagery as well. And using imagery of places that have... maybe this is another tangent to go off on... just thinking a lot about displacement and gentrification. I started to work on sheet rock, I started to paint and then, it's a love / hate relationship with that material, it falls apart, it crumbles, it's heavy, even though it claims not to be. So I decided that it would be interesting to hand-make something that is fabricated."

"It is actually especially poignant me speaking to you today because I realized this morning it's Septermber 11th, and not that my career as an artist began on September 11th, but somehow my thinking about making paintings shifted on that day. I had been installing for a month at a gallery in Chelsea... and so I guess during the course of that show I kept thinking about the ways in which we as artists bring our content to our work. Or bring expectation that there is meaning to what we do. When something as horrific as this day how many years ago in 2001, it emptied out the meaning. It was just like... whatever the wall surface, it's nothing. And there was something that of course a month later you're like, yeah, you're right, it does have meaning because this is what I do, this is my community and this is what I decided to do with my life, but it's also meaningless. What happened was I began to think about this tension of something both having meaning and not and seeing things and then they disappear. So that was my beginning with making installations and it came through painting..."

"The Mattress Factory was a unique situation because typically museums want to know everything you are going to do ahead of time. So this was a very fun project because I was able to see the space and then imagine what could be in it. The space looked like a tunnel to me so I thought it would be nice to put a giant child's model of a steam engine blown up as a ghost... when I was growing up I lived in Taiwan for a year and we had a steam engine track near our house... I would hear the sounds of the steam engine starting up around the time I was introduced to the concept of metaphor and I think it was the first time I really understood the metaphor of the train as it being a beast or a monster or alive, all the things that people attribute steam engine sounds to. So it seemed perfect. And I wanted it to be a ghost train because it is a nice metaphor for transforming into the non-material world."

"The masks are characters I get to know, that I feel I have a chemistry with. I have a huge collection and I reuse them and they go off onto different journeys of their own to different museums or galleries or situations, films... Once the whole body and the head are put together and completed, you feel like it could almost be like a totem, a wandering spirit inhabits the piece and is standing there. I have had some very strange uncanny moments in my studio with some of the completed characters. People have told me that in museums and galleries sometimes they feel like there is a presence in the figure and I would love that to be true... I would love to have a wandering spirit find a home and settle and enjoy the audience that comes through to see the piece."