BOOM gets big financial boost from Mayor Peduto

Story by Andrew McKeon, The Bulletin

BOOM Concepts’ Darrel Kinsel (left) and Thomas Agnew accept an official proclamation from the City of Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Jun. 19. The Garfield art gallery celebrated its five-year anniversary on Juneteenth, in concert with a fundraising campaing. Photo by John Colombo.

Garfield – Over the last 20 years, the Penn Ave. arts district has come to be defined by the “Unblurred: First Fridays” gallery crawl. The monthly event provides visitors an opportunity to explore the avenue’s mainstay galleries and pop-up venues, while also letting them interface with traveling artists.

A regular Unblurred participant, Garfield’s BOOM Concepts (5139 Penn Ave.) has maintained a surgical focus over the last five years. Building on its alkaline momentum to foster a space for marginalized artists, the gallery is now celebrating its fifth anniversary with all of its supporters.

In March, BOOM co-founders Darrell Kinsel and Thomas Agnew launched a fundraising campaign to highlight their five-year watermark. They have designs on a possible satellite location in Oakland, called “BOOM-Craft,” to expand the gallery’s reach and broaden the scope of its mission.

Individual donors have already responded to Kinsel and Agnew’s call for contributions – to the tune of $5,000 – with a haste that speaks to the gallery’s growing network of artists.

On Wednesday, Jun. 19, BOOM received an official proclamation from the City of Pittsburgh. Kinsel and Agnew, both keenly aware of “Juneteenth” and its importance within the civil rights movement, were very particular about when they wanted to commemorate their accomplishments.

“We were super-intentional about selecting Juneteenth,” Kinsel told a crowd of supporters on Penn Ave. As the room buzzed with anticipation, Mayor Bill Peduto presented the gallery’s co-founders with an official document that declared Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2019 to be “BOOM Concepts Day” in the city of Pittsburgh.

While expressing his thanks for their support, Kinsel also reminded the audience that “it’s easy to come here during First Fridays, but it’s the everyday, in-house programming that keeps BOOM afloat.”

Mayor Peduto followed up on the City’s proclamation by pledging a personal donation, matching the $5,000 that BOOM already raised, to bring the gallery’s fundraising total above $10,000.

Referencing Alisha B. Wormsley’s installation in East Liberty, Kinsel concluded the celebration by complimenting BOOM’s loyal supporters. “This is proof that there are Black people in the future,” he said.

Check out the July 2019 Bulletin for more local stories.