Wednesday, May 27, 2015

RECAP // A First-Time Account of "Diaspora"

In a new series titled "A First-Time Account," we invite new visitors to the Mattress Factory to share their experiences at the museum. The account below is from a student at the Winchester Thurston School.

Yesterday I visited the Mattress Factory for the first time ever. This is somewhat surprising considering I've lived in Pittsburgh my entire life. Upon immediate arrival at the Mattress Factory, it seemed like any normal museum, however I soon began to understand that visiting an interactive museum was a completely unique experience. As a young child I grew up with constant visits to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, however in recent years the only art museum I have visited is the Carnegie Museum of Art. I always enjoy my visits to the Carnegie, and I even wrote my Freshman Research Project on the Teenie Harris exhibit. However, there is clearly a difference between an observational style art museum and an interactive, hands-on art museum. Neither style of museum is necessarily better, however an interactive museum allows viewers to become more engaged in the art. This is especially valuable if you are a casual museum-goer like myself; I am interested in art, but I do not have an extensive knowledge of it, and I tend to have a short attention span.

One piece that particularly captured my attention was Diaspora by Ryder Henry. This exhibit's architectural style was unlike anything I've seen before. It was a combination of Sci-Fi and modern architecture. The buildings, roads, and cars were intensely detailed despite being made from recycled materials such as Trader Joe's coffee cans. This made me feel a personal connection to the artists, as Trader Joe's is one of my favorite stores. It surprised me that such an intricate work of art could be created from objects that usually end up in a landfill. Of course I've made my fair share of school art projects with various repurposed materials, however I can certainly say that they were not nearly as successful as Diaspora. Diaspora also had other intimate details like small flashing lights on certain buildings; I loved the subtle detail that these lights added to the town, especially because they weren't overly bright and obnoxious and I only noticed them upon close examination. 

Another detail I found notable in the town was a sign labeled "Automat" in English with Arabic writing below. I don't know Arabic, so I have no idea what the Arabic writing said, however it made me wonder wether Ryder Henry included this as an arbitrary detail or if he was making a subtle statement. Perhaps the artists forsees a future where Arabic is just as widely spoken as English. (Of course, this is by no means in implausible statement; Standard Arabic is the 5th most spoken language worldwide, while English is 2nd most spoken.) However, this is all my own personal speculation; I don't know the artist's true intention.

My favorite part of Diaspora may seem strange, but I really appreciated the physical placement of the installation within the museum. Diaspora is located on the fourth floor next to two windows. As I was looking at the installation, I eventually became distracted by two people smoking outside on top of the neighboring home. Afterwards, I approached the windows and looked around at the surrounding Northside neighborhood. I thought it was really interesting to compare the present-day Northside to Henry's futuristic vision. Although this was my first visit to the Mattress Factory, I am certain that it won't be my last. I know I'll be back soon to check out all the new installations coming in May.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

ANNOUNCING // Blue Star Museum Program 2015

In honor of Memorial Day this past weekend, the Mattress Factory is proud to announce our participation in the Blue Star Museums program, a national appreciation program for military families. Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer FREE admission to the nation's active-duty military personnel and their families, from Memorial Day (May 25, 2015) through Labor Day (September 7, 2015).

Other museums in the Pittsburgh area participating include: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Children's Museum of Natural History, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Frick Art & Historical Center, Senator John Heinz History Center, Society for Contemporary Craft, and the Andy Warhol Museum.

If you know any active-duty military personnel, spread the word so they don't miss out on this great opportunity to enjoy the Mattress Factory and over 2,000 other museums nation-wide FREE of charge!

Visit for more information.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

RECAP // A First-Time Account of "Danaë"

In a new series titled "A First-Time Account," we invite new visitors to the Mattress Factory to share their experiences at the museum.

Hello, my name is Max Pollack. I'm currently a senior at Winchester Thurston High School and will be attending George Washington University in the fall. I recently made a visit to the Mattress Factory and I left in awe. The exhibit that caught my eye the most was James Turrelll's Danaë, on the second floor. When I first stepped into the room to view this exhibit, I thought that I was just staring at a blank blue screen. As I approached the screen, I started to think that I may not be looking at a screen. As I found myself befuddled I decided to put my hand up and touch the screen, only to find that it wasn’t that at all. There was just another room with the lighting set up perfectly to create the illusion that there was a blue screen. 

It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen, and as someone who's mainly interested in sports and isn’t really that into art, I was amazed by this creation. When I normally see a painting or a sculpture or something I just think to myself “oh that’s interesting" or "I’ve seen that before,” but with this I was just truly amazed. I had never thought of art as being expressed in this way. When I think of art, I think of the traditional painting on a canvas, or maybe a sculpture.  The idea of presenting art in this more abstract form was very new to me, and this is why it was so intriguing. When I initially entered the room it was dead silent and I was expecting the screen to turn into a video clip or something, and as I slowly walked forward I could not believe what I was seeing. The reason I am so obsessed with this creation was I think a result of the surprise factor. It is really just something that I think everyone needs to see. I definitely will look forward to seeing more of James Turrell’s work in the future because of how unique and original he is, and I value originality over everything else.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

RECAP // "Factory Installed" Exhibition Opening Reception

Friday's opening reception of the new "Factory Installed" exhibition was nothing short of a great time.  A huge thanks to everybody who came out to celebrate these great new works with us!

This exhibition at 1414 Monterey Street features new work created in-residence by artists Jacob Douenias + Ethan Frier, Julie Schenkelberg, Anne Lindberg, and John Morris, and will continue through Spring of 2016.

"Living Things" by Jacob Douenias and Ethan Frier. Photograph by Kelly Keever.

"The Color of Temperance: Embodied Energy" by Julie Schenkelberg. Photograph by Kelly Keever

"shift lens" by Anne Lindberg. Photograph by Kelly Keever.

"Life, Afterlife" by John Morris. Photograph by Kelly Keever.

For more pictures of the exhibition, make sure to visit our Flickr Page.

Friday, May 15, 2015

PREVIEW // Literacy Day @ the MF

Join us next Saturday, May 23rd for a day of exploring the wonderful world of literature! This Literacy Day will be filled with a variety of activities from story time and bookmark crafts to a book sale, and will include visits from the Land of Nod Bookmobile and Little Free Libraries. Here's what the schedule for the day looks like:

Mini-Factory: MEMORY! / 10AM-11AM

The Mini-Factory program is for children ages 3-5 and their parents or caregivers. Young children explore a variety of themes and installations at the Mattress Factory, participate in story time and work on a collaborative hands-on project.

Land of Nod Tour Bus Visit / 11AM-1PM

The Land of Nod Bookmobile is bussing into Pittsburgh! Enjoy a story time, bookmark crafts and much more. For every book purchased from The Land of Nod, Random House Children's Books will donate one to Milk + Bookies, a charitable organization that provides books to those who can't afford their own.

Little Free Libraries / 12PM-5PM

Join Brasher High School students and Repair the World: Pittsburgh in a kickoff event for their Little Free Libraries initiative. Browse the Little Free Libraries the students have created and "adopt" one for installation in your own neighborhood.

Donating five books will will get you FREE admission to the museum all day long!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

ANNOUNCING // Urban Garden Party Entertainment + Vendors

The 2015 Urban Garden Party: "M is for Mattress Factory" is shaping up to be one serious party! We are proud to announce the following entertainment and food and beverage sponsors that will help to bring this monster of an evening to life.

Please check back as there will be more to come!

Food + Beverage Sponsors: All in Good Taste Productions, Apoidea Honey, Bar Marco, Barton's Flower & Bake Shop LLC, Bean Catering, Big Burrito Restaurant Group, Bistro To Go, Butcher on Butler, Clique Vodka, Coca Cafe, Cornerstone Restaurant, Culinary Artists - Private Chef Services, Divine Delectables, Donato's, Eclipse Lounge, Enrico's, The Greek Gourmet, Krispy Kreme, LaPrima, Legume, Lola Bistro, Moe's Southwest Grill, Opening Night Catering, Penn Brewery, Pittsburgh Candy Buffet, Pizza Taglio, Rita's Italian Ice, Savoy, The Summit Pittsburgh, Sweet Sophistication, Trader Joe's, Tupelo Honey Teas, Wigle Whiskey

Tickets start at just $110. MF Members get the best deal available on UGP tickets. Already a member? Please contact Caitlin Harpster for your discount code. Not a member? Join today!

Friday, May 8, 2015

RECAP // Mini-Factory: ME!

Mini-Factory is all about exploring, and in a recent program we turned the lens on ourselves with our new theme - ME! Self-expression of thoughts and feelings can be easy for some people yet difficult for others, so why not practice by looking at some great art--a form of self-expression. Our group of young art explorers took to the challenge. Together, we identified some words which help describe feelings... "shy as a shrimp," "loud as a lion," "wild as a chimp"... emotions personified as animals help younger ones connect these abstract thoughts with imagination, movement and verbal expression.

We also tried a new idea - journaling for 3 to 5 year olds! Each parent-child team was given a speech bubble to journal, with the aim of writing down any words which described their feelings, reactions or thoughts to an installation. How many feelings/words can describe this space? Name as many as possible. Which word do you feel in this space?

We visited four galleries and made four separate entries into our journals. Here is what we discovered about ourselves:

- Ryder Henry's Diaspora makes me feel "WOW"
-John Peña's Word Balloons make me feel "SMALL"
-Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Dots Mirrored Room makes me feel "PEACEFUL"

After our quick visits to the galleries, our group reconvened in the MF Lobby for some art-making fun. Using our journals loaded with descriptive words, we made a ME! collage. Pictures from magazines were matched with our words, cut out and collaged together.... put it all together, and you've got ME!

Mini-Factory is an interactive learning program for children ages 3 to 5 years old and their parent or caregiver. Using contemporary installation art, parents and children will explore new ideas and concepts from the everyday world. Join us at 10am on May 9 to learn about COLOR!

Monday, May 4, 2015

RECAP // Coffee Date with Julie Schenkelberg

This past Saturday, MF Members attended a special behind-the-scenes Coffee Date with upcoming artist in residence, Julie Schenkelberg.

A Brooklyn-based Cleveland native, Julie has been living at the Mattress Factory for the last four weeks in the artist residence around the corner from the museum. During the last month, Julie has been working on her installation on the second floor of the Mattress Factory's 1414 Monterey Street gallery. MF Members had the exclusive opportunity to meet Julie and see her work in progress.

Julie Schenkelberg shows MF Members around her work in progress
Julie's materials: Stacks of china filled the neighboring gallery

Julie was very warm and open as MF Members began to flutter into her partially-completed installation. With a warning to watch where you step, Members immediately began asking questions.

After a walk-through of Julie's installation, she led the group into the next room which she called her "storage space."

MF Members enjoy a cup of coffee
The Coffee Date concluded with coffee, donuts and discussion. We learned that Julie uses domestic objects from the home, evoking "a dignity about the living space," as Julie put it. Laura Zurowski, a MF Member, commented on how her work, however messy, really does feel like a home. It reminded her of abandoned houses and all the things that might be left behind. Julie explained that all her materials were from Pittsburgh. She found them at Construction Junction, thrift stores, and donations from MF staff and others. [If you would like to contribute items from your own home for use in Julie's installation at the Mattress Factory, please see this post!]

Join us Friday, May 15, 2015 6-8PM for the opening of Julie Schenkelberg's installation, as part of our Factory Installed exhibition also featuring Jacob Douenias & Ethan Frier, Anne Lindberg and John Morris. $15 or FREE for MF Members.