Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Recap// Factory 500 in Lawrenceville

The sun was shining on October 22, 2017 when Factory 500 members gathered at the Allegheny Cemetery in Bloomfield to learn about its long history. Members got a peek inside the Temple of Memories, where the stained glass windows depicted the early years of Pittsburgh's storied past. Pittsburgh historian, Jim Wudarczyk, led the group along “millionaires row,” a stretch of some of the impressive mausoleums in the cemetery, learning about each resident.

Members then caravanned to the studio of artist Mary Mazziotti who has been working in Lawrenceville for several decades. Mazziotti describes her work as contemporary memento mori. Working with textiles and painting she creates art that reminds the viewer of the ephemerality of life. She spoke about her desire to infuse her pieces with wit and humor and juxtapose with simplicity of craft with the profundity of death. Members enjoyed perusing her vast collection of work, enjoying the whimsicality in each piece.

To conclude the evening, a reception was held at the home of long-time Lawrenceville residents Kalliope and Joe Geever. The Geevers boast a unique residence which is decorated floor to ceiling with an impressive collection of art, mementos, and found objects. Members enjoyed cocktails and snacks nestled between a koi pond and garden lit by twinkling lights. 

For more information on how you can get involved with Factory 500, simply click here and join today! If you have questions about the program please do not hesitate to contact Nicole Hall, Development Coordinator. Catch up with what the group has been doing by following this blog and our Instagram account. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

RECAP // Factory 500 Tour of Homewood

On Friday, September 8, Factory 500 members joined MF Co-Directors at the Homewood studio of blacksmith Colin Carrier, owner of London Pattern. Carrier's studio creates handcrafted and decorative metalworks for homes and businesses using old-school technology and vintage tools. Carrier demonstrated the versatility of his machines, showing members the sheer force needed to work with metal as well as the delicacy and skill required for more intricate pieces.

Members were able to gather close, getting an intimate look at Carrier's technique, though they were careful to stay far enough away so as not to get burned!

The group then made their way down the street to Ashley Cecil's studio. Cecil is an artist and illustrator who is fascinated with flora and fauna. Her work blends art and science. She immerses herself in residencies with scientific institutions and gains inspiration for her paintings from their collections of birds and plants. 

Cecil explained her process of painting, graphic design, and manufacturing to MF members, showcasing her extensive body of work.

Finally, members ended their evening at the home of MF board member, Alice Snyder, where they were joined in a surprise visit from the Shady Dog. Members dined on hot dogs, pierogies, and wine while they enjoyed the evening and the last bits of the summer. 

For more information on how you can get involved with Factory 500, simply click here and join today! If you have questions about the program please do not hesitate to contact Nicole Hall, Development Coordinator. Catch up with what the group has been doing by following this blog and our Instagram account.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

RECAP // MF Member Trip to Philadelphia!

On August 19, 2017, the Mattress Factory set out on its first-ever overnight trip to Philadelphia!

After loading up on coffee, pastries, and other goodies from a hearty breakfast spread, MF members boarded a coach bus at the early hour of 7am. Once the bus got rolling, members had the chance to mingle and get to know their fellow art appreciators. There was a great deal of excitement as everyone on the bus chatted about what was sure to be the highlight of the trip, the visit to the James Turrell Skyspace, Greet the Light.

MF Members socialized during the drive to Philadelphia!

Our first stop was The Fabric Workshop and Museum where Kate Abercrombie, Printing Production Manager and Master Printer, showed our group several artist boxes. After each Artist in Residence at The Fabric Workshop and Museum completes their time there, the museum preserves artifacts from their residency at the museum in boxes. It was a rare look into the working practice of artists, such as Ann Hamilton [artifacts from her piece pictured below], who exhibited at the MF.

Then, Kate led a screen printing demonstration, and MF members had the chance to try out screen printing on fabric! After taking some time to tour the Louis Kahn exhibition, members packed up for a quick break before their next adventure.

Factory 500 member Anoo pulls off a perfect print!

The group convened for a delicious, multi-course dinner and drinks at El Poquito restaurant! The group had a chance to chat about their shared love of art - and everything else, too, over a leisurely meal. There was laughter and conversation all around, and members left the table not only having had a good meal, but having made new friends.

Trip attendees enjoyed craft cocktails and delightful food together!

As the sun began to set, the group traveled over to the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting, a Quaker Meetinghouse where the James Turrell Skyspace, Greet the Light, is housed. There, Signe Wilkinson greeted our group and spoke with us about the piece. Everyone found their place, the lights dimmed, and the hour-long experience began. Photos are not allowed in the Turrell piece, but our members described the piece as an extraordinary sensation, meditative, and truly transcendent. 

Everyone's experience was a little different. Members saw the color of the sky change, observed the sky appearing to become solid, to move, to expand and contract. They saw the ceiling disappear, and watched satellites move across an alien-looking green, then pink, then purple, then blacker-than-black field. The group left feeling calmed and illuminated by their shared encounter with one of James Turrell's phenomenal works.

Some of our group were so entranced with Greet the Light that they returned at 5am to take part in the sunrise viewing of the piece. Members of the morning crew reported that the morning experience was unique and incredibly vibrant. All who went were happy they traded sleep for the opportunity.

This intrepid crew returned to the Skyspace at 5am for a sunrise viewing - and it was worth it!
The rest of the morning was spent freely. Some people ventured out for brunch while others took advantage of the hotel's central location to visit sites such as the Barnes Foundation, Reading Terminal, and the Mütter Museum. Around noon, everyone convened for one last adventure.

At FS Investments, trip-goers were let in on a quiet Sunday to explore the CEO, Michael Forman's, private art collection. The artists represented in the collection are too numerous to name here, but included Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Robert Motherwell, and Cecily Brown. The group wandered down halls, peeked into meeting rooms, and climbed up and down stairs finding rarely-seen artwork by a diverse array of modern and contemporary artists at every turn.

Attendees returned to Pittsburgh Sunday evening with amazing memories and new connections. If you missed it this time, keep an eye out, because we may be cooking up a repeat tour for the future!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

RECAP // Factory 500 Tour of Wilkinsburg

Factory 500 members prepare to tour the Wilkinsburg Train Station.
On a recent rainy July day, Factory 500 members gathered at the Wilkinsburg Train Station, an iconic landmark that has stood abandoned since its closing in 1976. Tracey Evans, Executive Director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation, and John Evans, preservation architect with MacLachlan Cornelius & Filoni, gave members an in-depth look at the history and architecture of the building, including their plans for the restoration and re-opening of the site. With hardhats on, MF members stepped through the double doors into a space that the public has not seen for over forty years. Members photographed the high ceilings that reflected in the water, the original cast iron door frames, and the light that fell through the collapsing roof.

A member inspects the basement of the one-hundred year old train station.
MF members listen to John Evans explain the next steps for the building's restoration.

After removing their hardhats, Factory 500 members made their way just around the corner to Tip Type and Lovett Sundries. Tip Type, a letterpress print shop and collaborative artist-run space, is located in a traditional print shop that had been in operation since 1957. MF Members examined the antique presses, linotypes, wooden and lead typefaces, and various other artifacts of a bygone era of printmaking while Haylee Ebersole, an artist and member of Tip Type, told the story of the shop and gave a demonstration using the printing equipment. 

Haylee Ebersole demonstrates her use of Tip Type's antique printing equipment. 

Right next door, members visited with Jeff Lovett of Lovett Sundries, purveyors of local, hand-crafted apothecary items. Factory 500 members sampled hand creams, bug spray, deodorant and more. With an exclusive discount for the Factory 500 group, many members shopped and took home an array of products.

Members were able to purchase a variety of hand-made goods at a nice discount!
Following a brief drive through Wilkinsburg, Factory 500 members reconnected at the studio and home of artist, Dee Briggs. Dee shared how her ties to the Wilkinsburg and Pittsburgh communities have affected her work and positively impacted her on a personal level. Members had the opportunity to explore her studio yard, where the artist had four large-scale sculptures on display. The group was able to gain insight into Dee’s process through a visit to her design space, where she maps out her projects using architecture and design software prior to their fabrication. Mattress Factory members wrapped up the afternoon with conversation over wine and refreshments in Dee’s studio.

Dee Briggs speaks about her artistic practice in front of one of her sculptures.

Oil stick drawings, smaller sculptures, and models from Dee Briggs' studio.

For more information about Factory 500 or to join today, please visit or contact Nicole Hall at or 412.231.3169.