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Dennis Maher’s “A Second Home” is a Dreamscape of the House and Mind

Dennis Maher’s “A Second Home” will remain on exhibit at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh over the next several years, evolving through collaborations with the museum and site-specific installations by Maher’s students. Photo by Tom Little, courtesy of Mattress Factory 

Dennis Maher’s “A Second Home” is a Dreamscape of the House and Mind

In an unassuming row house on Pittsburgh’s North Side, an architectural fantasy world consisting of thousands of found and altered objects — columns, drawers, dollhouses, cabinets and toys — extends throughout the walls, oors and ceilings.

This is “A Second Home,” a reconstitution of architectural fragments large and small by Bu alo artist-architect Dennis Maher in Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory museum of contemporary art. 

“I am interested in the house as a kind of architectural model that brings together many different scales and parts of our surrounding environement. The house magnifies the city," says Maher, a clinical assistant professor of architecture who spent the last summer forming the miniature worlds of model buildings, rooms, furnishings and cityscapes.

Maher’s wonderland is also multi-sensory. Recordings of the house — from creaking doors to percussive play with its new components — resonate inside the space, creating a multi-layered, recursive dialogue between the house and its appended elements.

“A Second Home” is also, in a way, where Maher nds himself. His own home in Buffalo, The Fargo House, is perhaps his most prominent work of assembled architectural remains. Maher recently expanded his urban enterprise into an abandoned church in Bu alo, where he will partner with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to train city residents in construction-related arts.

After its opening in August, “A Second Home” will continue to transform over the next two years through Maher’s collaboration with the Mattress Factory and site-speci c installations with his students. 

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