Monday, June 29, 2009

Denise McMorrow Mahone

I just bought-slash-won my first painting at an art auction!
It's a painting by the artist Denise Mcmorrow Mahone.
The museum hosted an event the other night for the Sherry Everett Scholarship Fund, which helps African American kids receive scholarships for college. They were setting up their silent auction items as I was leaving, and I thought, well, there aren't many people here yet, so I'll just start the ball rolling with a big near its starting price (which seemed ridiculously low to begin with). I outbid someone else by five whole dollars, and put my name and phone number down. I also bid on a cute little licorice plant for my bedroom. But sadly no one called me to tell me I had won, so I thought that was it. Then I came into work the next morning and I had won both items! I was almost excited not to have to buy them, thinking that more money had been raised with higher bids (and a little buyer's remorse). But I'm now excited to have this in my apartment. I loved that it had music pages collaged underneath layers of paint, and Italian and French texts. It's also sort of abstractly geometric, and has some slight pencil markings on top for a fancy finish.
I'm quite taken with Ms. McMorrow's installations as well, as most of her works seem to deal with topics like language, collections, obsolescence (great for you librarians out there!). I'm always curious about things like memory, spirituality, and nostalgia; even contemporary artists like Joseph Cornell and personalities like Lord Whimsy remind me of a Victorian time and place that I never experienced, what remains of creepy antique dolls, doorknobs, old books, lace, garden tools. I know they've been capitalized in movies and retro-lifestyle magazines, but I can't help feel a certain attraction to their well-lived lives. In a way, it's a nostalgia for a life you never lived. In short, I can't wait to look at the painting for a long time as it now lives with me. Come visit it!

(Above: the painting I purchased, Los Vestigios: Even; copyright Denise McMorrow Mahone.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I miss the days of making mobiles. I used to find soldering wire and make it into forms, like this picture of a mobile in my parents' house (can you spot abstractions of person sitting, and an eyeball with eyelashes?). Then when I discovered that a lot of soldering wire has lead in it, I made sure to create mobiles with lead-free wire. I made a delightful mobile for E. which looks like giant tree branches, as E. is a botany lover and knows all the Latin names for trees. I made another mobile for A. and B. which had little gossamer silver foil leaves inside heart-shaped dangling pieces, because they are in love, I guess. That one really didn't have a purpose other than looking nice and dangling from a high ceiling.
I don't even really have pictures of those pieces, but one never knows when I might try and rig one up again. In other wire-related news, I'm currently, slowly, working on a very tall crocheted wire sculpture/sound installation for SPACE gallery in Pittsburgh in winter, and all I can hope for at this moment is that 1800 yards of wire later, I will have a giant dangling stalactite hanging from the ceiling. Here's a toast to hanging dangling wires: you've been near and dear to me for ten years now. Keep up the good work. And don't give me lead poisoning.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Garden Party Pictures

I think this small sampling of pictures really says it all- minus the pictures of all the people actually attending the party. Images courtesy of George Mendel at Pittsburgh Grapevine.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mattress Factory Urban Garden Party

Well, it's all over. Now we pick up the mess. Mattress Factory museum had their annual Garden Party fundraiser (though an equally busy Community Day is planned for tomorrow) and I managed to stay alive. I was in charge of ticket sales, and we had a thousand bodies come through the door in one way or another. I came into work a little late yesterday, as the museum was closed in preparation for the event, but I didn't get home until 1:30am. Let me collect my thoughts as to what transpired last night. Pictures will be posted on flikr at some point, and I was definitely in one of them, though I missed when images projected onto one of the 10 plasma TVs in our giant parking lot tent.

The theme of this years' party was 'All Access: Backstage Pass'. Guests paying $200 each arrived for the VIP party, greeted by a crowd of fans listening to a Rolling Stones cover band, and paparazzi taking all of the guests photos. Once you went past the band, you were 'backstage' (i.e. inside the museum) and the band was pretty much nonexistent. Interesting concept, I suppose!

I worked willcall with several other dedicated volunteers and employees, taking tickets and making sure that corporate sponsors got all the right tickets. Out of all the tickets given, I think I only forgot about three people on the list, which impressed me! The hardest part was deciding who gets VIP and which corporation they worked for- sometimes I'd have a last name of a ticketholder, and sometimes I only had a company name. There were way too many exceptions to the rules, and way too many comp tickets!

The VIP Party included, and I kid you not:
-A basement lounge lit by blacklight, with chairs and a bed made out of stuffed animals
-The Pens game on projection screen (and they won the Stanley Cup because we had the Garden Party, obviously)
-Tabla players
-Live-action painting
-A little person dressed as a nurse, carried on a caravan-style bed by four bodybuilders
-A big person nurse giving out jello shots, with an I.V. drip created from a vodka bottle.
-Um, and a naked girl covered in food for people to eat off of. I think she had some kind of banana leaves covering the important (possibly unsanitary) bits.

The regular party began an hour later, which opened up into the larger parts of the museum. This was the main event, which was open bar, and tickets were $90 each. I can't believe that all this happened:
-A Hookah bar
-Four drag queens performing (amazing!)
-A sword swallower
-A ceiling covered in stuffed animals, draped with fabrics
-A pole dancer
-Naked body-painted models dancing on stage
-About 60 food and beverage vendors
-A 30-foot-long limousine that functions as a bar: bartenders gave you drinks from the inside of it.

The lobby of the museum then transformed into a dessert room for all the guests, filled with cupcakes, cookies, and treats, and there were so many cupcakes left I didn't know what to do with them. Hardly a disappointment.

Oh! I almost forgot. As you enter the building, you are greeted by five models in bathing suits, in a hot tub. In the museum. I heard several curators say it was the best party they've even been to. I don't know about that, but it was certainly crazy, and everyone seemed like they had a blast.
I think the funniest thing about the party was that I kept repeating, 'I can't believe this is happening at our museum'. The chairs of the party are famous for their rock and roll event hosting, and they wanted everything to seem spontaneous and chaotic, like you might miss something if you didn't know it was happening. The weird thing about that was that the performers, guests, music, hockey game and the decorations combined to be a strange mix of Mattress Factory style (read: industrial chic meets goodwill meets 1940's deco) and tickety-tack tranny meets fratboy meets aging hippies. This towed the line between kind of horrible and offensive, and kind of awesome and amazing. And I think the crux of the event was that the mix just tipped over the edge toward amazing! I'll have to remember that when it comes to planning my birthday party.

The main event ended around 11:30, and cleanup went relatively smoothly, though it always takes longer than one hopes. I'm sure I've still got a lot of work to do on Monday, when the real cleanup begins, and we have to count up tickets, clean the liquor spills and the cupcake crumbs, and talk about how everything went. But now that the year's biggest fundraiser is out of the way, I can think about my summer vacation coming up in August!

Pictures to come, as soon as I see them posted...
Hope to see you at the Garden Party next year.