Back in 2005, when they were first pursuing careers as working artists, Manya Rubinstein and Pete Oyler lived and worked in one of the artist communities that seem to sprout up every few years in Providence, R.I., home to the acclaimed Rhode Island School of Design. But though the two were neighbors, and serious fans of contemporary art, their friendship didn't flourish until they discovered another shared passion: an eagerness to create a project exploring art scenes in cities that flew under the art-world radar, just as Providence often did.
"We bonded," explains Rubinstein, "over the desire to make something different happen."
Five years passed before either of them had the time to make good on that promise. But in 2010, they began assembling what eventually became Outpost Journal. The nonprofit print magazine documents underground and undiscovered artistic communities in small and inconspicuous towns — or outposts — across the country.
The magazine is scheduled to be published only twice a year, with each issue focusing on a separate city. And when it came time to choose a city for Outpost's inaugural issue, the editorial team went with Pittsburgh.
The gorgeously produced product that resulted was distributed nationally last fall, and it might surprise anyone who assumes they have a firm grasp on Pittsburgh's creative communities. Much of the book is devoted to profiles of relatively lesser-known creative locals, referred to by the magazine as the city's "Secretly Famous." And while a number of Pittsburgh's artistic stalwarts aren't mentioned in the magazine at all — Braddock's creative community seems to have been overlooked — there's more than enough unexpected content to justify the $15 cover price.
As for the decision to launch the magazine with a Pittsburgh-themed issue? According to the co-founders, it was based on little more than intuition, and the sense that Pittsburgh might be approaching the cultural cutting edge.
Even Eric Shiner, who heads The Andy Warhol Museum, is a fan of the project. "It's critical for the outside world to know how much is happening in the Pittsburgh art world," he says. "[The magazine] really made us look great as a city. And clearly, the message is spreading."
Outpost Journal can be purchased at The Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory, WildCard or online at outpostjournal.org.