Art in Its Many Forms

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PPG Place

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The glass castle that’s not really a castle.2014-06-24 01.57.01

Me running through the PPG Place fountain.2014-06-24 02.43.11

So, yesterday was my first day trip into the Burgh!
I saw the city before it saw me, peeking around the hills as I drove down Ohio River Boulevard. I was on my way to the North Side to visit the Mattress Factory, which actually has nothing to do with mattresses. It’s a contemporary art museum, which to my astonishment, few of my Pittsburgh friends knew about. A college friend of mine from the city told me I should go since it’s his favorite museum. I did my research and found out that Tuesdays are half-price day and since I’m still a student, I got that discount, too. So that was pretty cool (and a relief to my bank account).
So, donning my Pittsburgh Pirates T-shirt to blend in, I stepped into the Mattress Factory. My conclusion: I don’t understand modern art. I guess a bunch of rusty car parts covered in salt and suspended from the ceiling has meaning for some, but not for me.
Not to say that it wasn’t worthwhile. It totally was. My favorite exhibit was the Infinity Dots Mirror Room, created by a Japanese woman. Before you enter the exhibit, you must remove your shoes or cover them. The room was blacklit and the polka dots on the floor shone green under them. There were panels of mirrors that made me believe I was walking into a maze (and almost went smack into one of the mirrors – it wasn’t a maze). That in itself was worth seeing.
One of the best exhibits was in the house a few doors down. The artist wove a net of black yarn all around the house, trapping everyday objects in the yarn, such as chairs, books, a sewing machine, a bed, and a wedding dress. It was supposed to be symbolic of memories. I really liked that.
Since my time at the Mattress Factory took a lot less time than I expected, I walked to the Andy Warhol Museum, also on the North Side. I’ve seen the Campbell’s soup can and the Marilyn Monroe before, but I never went to the museum. I was actually kind of confused about what made this guy so special, so I asked one of the docents. She said that he was the first to use screen printing for art rather than commercial purposes. She said he was a bit impatient (sounds like I’m in good company), so the screen printing was useful for making art quickly. Heck, it worked for him since now he has a whole museum dedicated to his work!
Art doesn’t have to be something you can hang on your wall, In fact, I think the best piece of art I saw that day was the city itself. I never realized just how walkable of a city Pittsburgh is. But I walked from the Mattress Factory to dahntahn with no trouble. I let myself get lost in the city, but there was one place that tugged at me: the PPG Place.
If you’ve never seen the building that houses Pittsburgh Plate Glass, the best way to describe it is a glass castle. There’s a fountain in the middle of the square. At first, I wasn’t going to play in it because I was by myself. But then I asked a security guard to watch my stuff. He happily did, and when I returned soaking wet and grinning like a crazy person, he commented, “You sure look like you were having fun.” He told me that he recently moved back to Pittsburgh after living 28 years in northern Maine. He doesn’t regret moving back.
And yesterday, neither did I.
After I left PPG Place, I let myself get lost along the Allegheny River (honestly, I can never remember which river is which). But as I wandered along, all I could think was “This is a beautiful city.”
Wonder what else this city has in store for me?

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