EXTRA took a moment to talk with the owners of Pilsen Outpost, which opened last month.
Diana Solis, Teresa Magana and Pablo Ramirez talked about how the idea for the store came about and how they’re getting ready for the holidays.
EXTRA: Can you give me a little background on the three of you? For instance, how and why you got interested in pursuing art?
Diana Solis has been an artist pretty much all her life. She has always been surrounded with the arts which was due to her father keeping her and her siblings involved with all kinds of culture. She has always had a career in art, including being a photographer, painter, illustrator and art educator. It is her passion.
Teresa Magana always had a creative side extending from music to poetry to art. She was also in the corporate world for many years. She made the decision to make art her full-time career a few years ago. It has been a decision that has proven to be very positive and successful. She has gained much happiness in her life and is working on getting so many of creative ideas out into the world.
Pablo Ramirez also became an artist through his appreciation of the arts. From an early age, he would collect art and now that he is older he is learning about turning his creative thoughts into artistic concepts.
How did the idea for Pilsen Outpost come about? How long did it take for it to go from an idea to reality?
The idea was something that organically happened after first hanging out with Teresa at the Pilsen Farmer’s Market, and then bringing our own things to share and sell in the booth together. We each had a drive and motivation to not only move our own artwork, but to help other artists the way we were helping ourselves by partnering up. As we hit the art fairs and summer festivals, we started selling work of a few other artists we knew, and the ideas just started flourishing from there. By the time fall came around, La Catrina Cafe graciously offered to house us in their new event space once they heard we were exploring the idea of being a pop-up shop. Initially, we were supposed to be there for three months, but we ended up staying for six! Those six months were very encouraging and we then decided to work towards a full-on retail and gallery space rather than continuing to be a pop-up.”
“We spent many months looking into retail spaces at a variety of locations, and when we reached a point when we were gonna take a break from looking, the perfect location presented itself to us. It took about two years for all the foundations of our work to lay itself out and become the reality it is today.
You officially opened on Nov. 1. Can you tell me about how the grand opening went? Any memorable stories?
The Grand Opening was overwhelming, exciting, emotional, and definitely a memorable day and night. We had a soft opening two weeks prior with the opening of our first group show called, “I Left My Wallet en la Cermak,” which was a white box gallery setting showing the work of all our artists. That night got many people’s attention and excited about what we were creating in that space. We had a full house throughout the day as we hosted a calavera painting workshop, served pozole, and introduced people to our retail shop set up. The evening transformed into a reception with music, more pozole, and a night of much support from family, friends and the community. We met so many new faces that day and received feedback that was encouraging for what we have been doing these past two years—bringing attainable, quality, cool, unique and different styles of local art and events to our community.
For those outside of Pilsen, can you give a brief description of what Pilsen Outpost is? Why should they shop there?
Pilsen Outpost is an art retail shop and gallery. We specialize primarily in urban contemporary art and have a variety of local handmade craft items. Everything in our shop, from the silk-screened T-shirts, prints, custom toys, bags, cards, posters, stickers and jewelry, has been made by Chicago local artists. Well, almost everything. We have been building on our connections and relationships with national and international artists as well, and house art work from folks in Mexico City, San Antonio, Los Angeles and more to come. Along with our retail shop, we have a dedicated exhibiting area in which we aim to use shows for new or emerging artists looking to take a step further into their art exhibiting experience.
So why should you shop here? We work with many super talented emerging and established artists to bring you items you might not typically find in the retail shops in your part of the city.
I see you have something called Pilsen Stories on your website. Can you tell me a little more about the plan for the blog? How did this idea come about?
It’s a secret. =) Stay tuned….
Are there any big projects or events at Pilsen Outpost coming up that our readers should know about?
This holiday season, we are bringing in new work every week to offer the most unique gift ideas to all. You will be sure to find your one-of-a-kind item for a special someone.
Our next big show will be in February. We are featuring a crazy talented young man originally from Queretaro but now living in Minneapolis. He has family ties in Chicago and, after meeting him and seeing his work, we instantly wanted to work with him. We are excited about sharing his work with Pilsen and all of Chicago.
And finally, what items does Pilsen Outpost have for purchase? What would you say your top three items are?
As mentioned earlier, we carry locally-made art and handmade items such as T-shirts, prints, custom-sculpted toys, original art, bags, jewelry, zines, posters, and too much more to list. It’s hard to say what our top items are. We have such a diverse group of people that come in. Everyone walks out with something different than the last person.
1958 W. 21st St.
Hours: Wed. – Mon. 10am – 8pm