Mattress Factory

June 20
7 – 11 p.m.

Walking into the multi-sensory room-sized art installations at the Mattress Factory is akin to stepping into another world.

When planning one of summer’s—and all of Pittsburgh’s—hottest parties, the Northside art museum leaves no stone unturned, applying the same attention to imaginative detail and creative risk-taking that it does when selecting world-class artists to make new work on site. The weekend of the summer solstice is perfect timing for the Mattress Factory to host its 17th annual Urban Garden Party, a singular annual fundraiser for the contemporary art museum and residency program.

Known to generate buzz in the weeks leading up to the annual affair is the party’s festive rotating theme. This year, museum staff, event co-chairs Sarah Thomas and Dan Drawbaugh—and more than 1,400 Mattress Factory fans and friends—invite you to their version of the Wild (Wild) West. So don your best Annie Oakley or Buffalo Bill garb, think spurs, lassos, paisley hankies and fringe, and head to the Mexican War Streets to ring in one of the longest nights of the year.

Sure to bring a mix of country-tinged lonesome cowboy nights to the eclectic happening will be live music by Shelf Life String Band and Stampede. Additional featured performers keeping the energy high include Portland-based DJ Zimmie, Kierra Darshell’s Divas of Drag and the Mad House Dancers. Watch thrilling bull riding with The Bull Guys and pop into Selfie Studios’ Wild West photo booth for a cheeky keepsake.

If you need a mantra for the night, it’s arrive early for the food, stay late for the dancing. Nourishing Wild Westerners will be tasty food and drink from more than 40 of Pittsburgh’s top restaurants and catering companies. Always a staggering mix of established and emerging purveyors, this year’s lineup includes: Bar Marco, Legume, Maggie’s Farm Rum, PGH Taco Truck, All in Good Taste Productions, Butcher on Butler, Double Wide Grill, E2, Isabella on Grandview, Lux Artisan Chocolates, Pittsburgh Candy Buffet, Rania’s, Tender, Pittsburgh Winery, Verde, Wigle Whiskey and more.

Party-goers will also vie for one-of-a-kind artwork commissioned just for the event and for sale during the event’s highly anticipated silent auction. Each year, the garden gala boasts a new twist on the proceeds, turning the auction format into something of a cultural happening, by inviting artists to transform an everyday object into an original work of art. Based on a new theme every year and created lovingly by local and regional artists, the unique auction pieces end up hanging on living room walls, sitting on studio shelves and featured in glass cases around the Burgh. This year’s object du jour is the iconic horse shoe.

In between all of the bidding, dancing and noshing, be sure to check out the museum’s world-class art located in its Sampsonia Way galleries.

Still standing at 11 p.m.? Saunter on over to Penn Brewery (where the kitchen will be open late), for the official Wild West After Party. Be sure to wear your Urban Garden Party wristband to receive $3 drink specials.

Those lucky enough to snag a ticket to the sold-out VIP pre-party will enjoy a reception hosted by Mattress Factory Board Member Bob Sendall. Inside the party’s Lower Level Saloon, VIP-ers will enjoy exclusive entertainment by The Sterling Sisters, a Dolly Parton impersonator and Johnny Cash tribute artist Terry Lee Goffee, plus fare by All in Good Taste Productions and a whiskey tasting with PVI Global—Barrel Craft Spirits.

All proceeds from the Garden Party directly support the museum’s operations, exhibitions and educational outreach. And the party has helped in a significant way, raising an impressive $265,000 in 2013. Known for its staunch commitment to supporting the creative practice of living artists from around the globe, the Mattress Factory works tirelessly to bring cutting-edge art and art-makers to Pittsburgh. For 35 years and counting, the museum has provided artists from Cuba to the Czech Republic with the space, time and materials needed to develop new practices and present work in an unrestricted venue, and has supported work by groundbreaking artists such as James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, Ann Hamilton and Kiki Smith.

Just 36 hours later, on Sunday, June 22nd, the museum will swing open its doors from 1 to 5 p.m. to host its annual Community Urban Garden Party, tapping into the family-friendly side of the Wild West. Read all about that here.

The event is expected to sell out, so grab your tickets now.

Jennifer BaronEvents & Jobs Editor

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.