FYI on DIYs in PHL: Pterodactyl
, Philadelphia’s innovative arts space that has featured some seriously entertaining artist receptions and shows will be celebrating its first birthday tonight. And it plans to do so in epic fashion with live performances by Mount Joy
, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb
, Out Like Lambs, and Montagna and the Mouth to Mouth as well as art from the good people at the Big Art Show. We recently had the chance to sit down and talk with Catherine Dentino about Pterodactyl’s origin, the show, and a preview of what’s to come.
The Deli: How did Pterodactyl's origin come about?
Catherine Dentino: Pterodactyl originated through the efforts of its two organizers, Paul and myself. Both of us are artists and have been aspiring for a long time to create spaces where art could happen in a low key and participatory setting. Paul had already been working to provide opportunities for artists to show their work through Big Art Show. I had been working on getting my Masters in Arts and Cultural Management with the intention of starting a nonprofit organization. We had both been thinking about starting an art space and we were presented with the opportunity to do so in early 2009. At that time, we moved our partner company, Fireball Printing, into a new space and were able to acquire a studio with enough room to start Pterodactyl.
TD: How did Big Art Show and Fireball Printing get involved?
CD: Fireball Printing is our partner company, and provides support for Pterodactyl through our ability to share resources, such as space and utilities. As Pterodactyl grows, the two will inevitably become less connected, but because Pterodactyl is still a young organization, Fireball's support gives it stability and basically makes Pterodactyl possible.
As I mentioned before, Big Art Show is an organization that Paul has been running for several years. Big Art Shows are basically one-night art parties that are open to all artists who want to participate. Our vision for Pterodactyl is very much rooted in the concept behind Big Art Show, especially the idea that art is for everyone. While Pterodactyl does take a slightly more curated approach and has ongoing shows in addition to one night art events, we encourage outside voices through art submissions and curatorial proposals, and even through proposals and suggestions for our classes. We also hope to continue hosting Big Art Shows on a regular basis.
TD: How did organizing concerts become a part of your art space?
CD: Music and art have been integrated at Pterodactyl since our first show. In part, it's another throwback to Big Art Show, but that's mostly because it's a combination that works really well. Having live music creates a really laid back, open atmosphere, which helps break down some of the fears that people have about going to look at art. It also creates cross-pollination between the different audiences, who may be coming for one reason but find themselves exposed to other things as well.
TD: What can you tell us about your studio spaces and the art classes that you offer?
CD: The availability of our studio spaces has diminished as we're beginning to outgrow our current space (we currently only have one rentable art studio), but our hope is that in the next couple of years we'll move into a new building with a lot more space for artist studios, as well as other resources to help facilitate art making.
The art classes take place 2-3 times per year, and they usually occur on a weekly basis and run for 4-8 weeks. The classes offered vary with each session. We typically offer classes covering basic techniques such as silk screening and sewing, along side classes that address more esoteric topics, like Contemporary Conceptions of Bones as Material. Right now, we're scheduling our Fall session, and we plan to add in a few new class topics. The Fall class listings should be up on our site in the next few weeks.
TD: What do artists/musicians/etc. have to do to get involved with any Pterodactyl exhibit?
CD: We have several opportunities posted on our website, including a call for curatorial proposals and a call for art submissions. We also post calls for entry for specific shows, such as the Big Art Show this weekend. Bands that are interested in playing at our space are welcome to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
TD: What can you tell us about Saturday's 1st Birthday show?
CD: The Birthday Show marks one year of Pterodactyl's existence, measured by the first art classes we offered, which started in June 2009. It's a nice time to celebrate what we've done over the past year and think about what's next.
TD: Can you give us a preview of any upcoming art exhibits/lectures/film screenings/etc.?
CD: Our next show, “Mystic Monsters”, is a collaboration between Pat Aulisio and Adam Fergurson and includes comics, paintings, collaborations, appropriated advertising, and an in-gallery installation. The show opens on July 17 with a live DJ set. Our September show is called “Boy's Life”, and explores youth and nature through the guise of Boy's Life Magazine.
TD: What’s your favorite thing to get at the deli?
CD: Egg salad sandwich on whole wheat with lettuce and tomato (and a shout out to Misnik's Deli on Belgrade and Allegheny, even though they don't usually have egg salad).
- The Deli Staff
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