Saturday, July 21, 2012

Northside Culture Shock

Psychedelic cows...dig it?
We just returned back to the Priory Hotel after a long afternoon of getting "cultured" at three well-known Northside attractions: The National Aviary, the Warhol Museum and the Mattress Factory. Before I completely pass out from an art-overload though, here's a recap of our afternoon on the Northside.

After I finally dragged Brian away from the British Open, we hit up The Priory's breakfast buffet one more time (there was a fruity pebble donut there that would be absolutely sinful to pass up) and then made our way to the National Aviary, located right smack dab in the middle of Pittsburgh's oldest park, Allegheny Commons.

Rose and some roses at the Aviary.
It had been quite a few years since I had been to the Aviary, so I was looking forward to revisiting the Pittsburgh landmark and of course seeing those darling little penguins again.  Walking into the Aviary, there is a beautiful rose garden that stretches down a long brick wall built to frame in a stretch of grass and patio area where events are often held.  After several photo ops there, Brian's last name is ROSE after all so it was only appropriate, we headed in to check out the nation's largest aviary, housing over 600 birds of more than 200 different species.

A huge lover of all animals, I enjoyed every second of our trip to the aviary and I think aside from having to avoid a few bird droppings here and there, Brian enjoyed it as well. As we made our way through the facility's several themed areas squeezing in and out of the heavy traffic of people, we often stopped and stared in amazement at some of the aviary's exotic birds and took photo after photo of our favorites (I now have an entire album dedicated to the penguins!).  Speaking of penguins, if you are female that loves cute and cuddly animals, the Penguins Point exhibit alone is worth the price of admission!

After a good hour at the aviary and some 40 pictures later, we are on our way to the Warhol Museum, just a few short blocks away from the aviary.  Halfway between the two attractions, we stopped at one of our favorite Northside bars, SoHo, for a quick drink in order to enhance our museum experience.

Best part of the entire staycation.
I've never been a huge art person, but the Warhol Museum was just plain awesome.  Unfortunately, much of my time at the Warhol was spent stalking Joe Manganiello of True Blood fame, who I spotted immediately in front of me when we first walked in.  At one point, Brian instructed me to go onto a different floor of the museum because I could not seem to stop giggling while in his presence.

Even with my bad case of giggles, half of my focus on "wolf lookout," and a ridiculous amount of True Blood related jokes courtesy of Brian, I was still able to appreciate all six floors of the Warhol.  The museum is bright and colorful, showcasing beautiful, intriguing art, videos and structures created by the Pittsburgh artist.  We moved fairly quickly through the museum, however, due to the beautiful piece of art know as Joe Mangianello that seemed to be lurking around every corner.

The polka dot room at Mattress Factory
is quite the crowd-pleaser.
After running out of the museum and probably totally embarrassing Brian, we made a quick stop at my FAVORITE Northside spot, Taco Bell, before heading to the Mattress Factory.  Never having been to the Mattress Factory and because it's name isn't as obvious as "the Warhol,"  I had no idea what to expect walking into the museum that was discreetly tucked in between the houses of the Mexican War Streets.  The Mattress Factory turned out to be a very unique experience, featured three floors of contemporary art that you can physically walk into and explore.  We slowly made our way through each floor to check out these room-sized exhibits and many times stopped to ponder the meaning of these somewhat bizarre "installations."  Though some completely baffled me, my simple mind was utterly entertained and pleased with Greer Lankton's "It's All about ME, Not You" exhibit, a double mirrored, polka dot plastered room that you could step in to.  Something about the room instantly gives you the desire to dance around like an idiot....just saying.

Now, it's time to rest up, so we can keep conquering the Northside later this evening!  See you tomorrow!

- Stephanie

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