Mattress Factory

On view through May 31
Various times

Pittsburgh joins cities around the world—from São Paulo to Venice to New York City—to host its own version of the iconic Biennial concept. Currently in full swing at top arts venues around town, the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial welcomes its next opening on Friday, September 12th at Mattress Factory.

Five Pittsburgh-based artists were invited to create large-scale work for the North Side museum’s latest compelling exhibition, Artists in Residence. On view through May 31, 2015, Artists in Residence features installation art by Danny Bracken, John Peña, Ryder Henry, Kathleen Montgomery and Benjamin Sota. Each artist was invited to create a new room-sized work of installation art that demonstrates their unique approach to the creative process. Several of them are working outside of their comfort zones, or exhibiting at the museum for the first time. Underscoring the museum’s 35-plus year staunch commitment to supporting the creative practice of living artists, the show provided all participating artists with the chance to experiment with new materials and presentation formats.

Don’t miss Friday’s reception at the Mattress Factory, where art openings are always eclectic and festive affairs. The event will feature live music by Polish Hill-based band Lungs Face Feet, a pig roast and plenty of chances to experience the new exhibition. Artists and curators from all participating Biennial organizations are expected to attend. Housed within the museum’s galleries located at 500 Sampsonia Way and 1414 Monterey Street in the historic Mexican War Streets, the diverse show is presented in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Biennial.

A multi-disciplinary artist whose practice explores experiential interactions between video, sound and physical space, Danny Bracken creates a varied body of work—from immersive multi-sensory installations to small-scale sculptures. Music often plays a central role in Bracken’s visual works, creating entry points for viewers to engage directly with the art’s physical and conceptual components.

Merging fantasy sci-fi motifs, such as space ships and futuristic Jetsons-style buildings, with contemporary architecture, artist Ryder Henry creates models of cities that replicate real places in his neighborhood. Henry’s preferred medium is recycled cardboard which he often obtains by collecting boxes from the street.

Multi-disciplinary artist John Peña creates work that explores subtle relationships between humans and the natural world. Through his art, Peña aims to communicate with the environment around him, often documenting a memorable moment or encounter, and then piecing together experiences to form a larger story that evokes an appreciation for the ordinary moments in daily life.

Benjamin Sota is founder and artistic director of Zany Umbrella Circus, a socially conscious street theatre/circus company that uses the art of circus to encourage creativity and cooperation, and works to strengthen communities around the globe through education and folk artistry. As an artist, Sota works in areas of puppetry, music, acrobatics, live performance and storytelling.

Creating drawings, prints, sculpture and site-specific installations, artist Kathleen Montgomery explores the dialogue between an object and the space that surrounds it. During her residency at the Mattress Factory, Montgomery will transform a 2,000-square-foot space located in the museum’s 1414 Monterey Street Gallery. An early-20th-century building housing a first-floor storefront and domestically-scaled rooms on two additional floors, the unique space will provide Montgomery with a “physical sketchbook,” where she will focus her work on the tangible act of creation and an exploration of materials within an enclosed studio environment. The Mattress Factory exhibition marks the first time in 20-plus years that Montgomery’s work will be shown as part of a cohesive exhibition.

With 43 artists, nine curators and seven venues, the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial is the largest survey of regional contemporary art. A progressive partnership between seven of Pittsburgh’s top arts organizations, the Biennial simultaneously presents some of the most compelling new art in a wide variety of media being created throughout the region today, while also spotlighting the area’s distinct world-class arts and cultural venues and diverse art scene.

Curators for the 2014 Pittsburgh Biennial are: Jessica Beck (The Andy Warhol Museum); Nicholas Chambers (The Andy Warhol Museum); Amanda Donnan (Carnegie Museum of Art); Casey Droege (Miller Gallery at CMU); Murray Horne (SPACE); Barbara Luderoweski (Mattress Factory); Heather McElwee (Pittsburgh Glass Center); Michael Olijnyk (Mattress Factory); and Adam Welch (Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and Pittsburgh Filmmakers).

Watch a behind-the-scenes video about Mattress Factory: Artists in Residence.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.