The Mr. Roboto Project is a punk rock music venue, art gallery, and zine library. Opening in 1999 in Wilkinsburg, the space has since moved to 5106 Penn Avenue. Since its opening, the space aims to provide a safe and open space for people to experience a true DIY community. DIY or do-it-yourself refers to the ethic of self-sufficiency, in other words Roboto is run by a group of ten elected board members selected from the Pittsburgh community: a Secretary, a Membership Coordinator, a Treasurer, two Booking Coordinators, two Facilities Coordinators, a Webmaster / Social Media Coordinator, and a Public Relations Director. In addition, the space is run and supported by its members from the Pittsburgh community. By becoming a Roboto Member, one is able to vote for board members, create events, and even receive discounts from surrounding local businesses. The space provides a venue for local and DIY artists and musicians of the Pittsburgh community to perform and display the work that they create.
The front half of the space is reserved as Roboto’s art gallery. Here, monthly exhibitions are displayed lining the three walls of the room. On the first Friday of each month, the Roboto Art Gallery participates in the Unblurred Gallery Crawl event that extends along Penn Avenue. It is here that the space unveils the month’s new gallery exhibition, which stays installed for the rest of the month. The gallery has shown a variety of different types of art and mediums, ranging from photographs and paintings to ceramics. Artists can fill out a short submission form if they are interested in showing work.
Roboto is also the home of Zinebot, the zine library that contains a collection of over 1000 independently published works of writing and art. The Zinebot crew is currently working on creating monthly events such as workshops on how to create a zine, zine readings as well as other related activities. The Zinebot Catalog can be viewed online here: (http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Roboto_Project).
Besides providing a space for art and DIY publications, the space is better known for its venue space. Smaller than most venues, Roboto’s venue space holds only roughly 200 people. The intimate space provides listeners with an experience unlike any other music venue in Pittsburgh. In the past, a wide variety of artists such as Bright Eyes and Taking Back Sunday among many local artists have brought huge crowds to the space.
By Kirk Savage, art historian
The Mr. Roboto Project is run and supported by a board of members elected by the Pittsburgh DIY Community.