boom concepts

In 2007, Thomas Agnew founded Jenesis Magazine, a Pittsburgh-based youth lifestyle publication which gave local performers Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller their first covers. Four years ago, artists Julie Mallis and D.S. Kinsel began producing collaborative art under the heading of Magic Organs.

Now, the two ventures have joined forces to create BOOM Concepts—a combination workspace/community organization which, in addition to hosting Magic Organs’ studio space and Jenesis’ production facilities, aims to be a gallery, performance and gathering space.

BOOM’s grand opening is scheduled for July 3 and 4 next week to coincide not only with Penn Avenue Unblurred—Garfield’s July gallery crawl—but also a Magic Organs retrospective being shown just down the block at the Bunker Projects.

The following day, BOOM will host a cookout and fundraiser at its 5139 Penn Avenue space to help get its mission off the ground and to spread the word that it isn’t just another Penn Avenue art gallery.

“What sets us apart from what everyone else is doing that we’re not sticking to visual art or performance,” Mallis says. “We really do want to engage the community, and we’re not just sticking with youth. There isn’t really a limit for us.”

Along those lines, BOOM has plans to serve as much of the Bloomfield and Garfield populations as it can, by hosting community workshops in the space, with classes on topics such as finance and health and wellness coming later this summer. It’s already hosted a fashion show mounted entirely by local high school students, a vaudeville-style review from Rhinestone Steel Queer Pittsburgh, an organization working to enhance the city’s queer arts scene, and two Carnegie Mellon University visual arts exhibits.

“As a younger group on the block, I think we have a different demographic we’d like to bring in,” says Agnew. “We want to show them the space and show them that there’s something for them to do here, whether it’s a musical performance, an art installation or if they want to come in here and just talk and work on building a business. We have a lot of different connections we’d like to share and we want to help with the growth of the youth in Pittsburgh.”

Agnew credits the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation and the Heinz Endowments with helping BOOM secure the space and get off the ground.

For more information on the space’s grand opening, visit its event page.

Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all of the editorial meetings light-hearted and interesting. His interests include sorting books, looking at old things and candles which smell like old-growth pine forests.