Located almost directly off the Pilsen Pink Line stop at Damen, the Pilsen Outpost was opened just this past November. In a transformed storefront, you’ll find a crisp, clean presentation room of work by makers operating in a wide range of vernaculars. As it turns out, much of what they showcase is handmade by local and international indie makers, so that made it a perfect fit for a visit.
Co-owned and operated by Diana Solís, Pablo Ramírez and Teresa Magaña, the trio see the shop as much a chance at fostering a sense of community as it is simply a retail experience. “I think what we’re trying to do here,” says Ramirez, “We sell the stuff we like. Art, objects, handmade t-shirts. Silkscreens, our original designs. Eric Garcia, we have over fifty different designers.” says Ramírez. “Right. We try to go in for urban contemporary art, that’s the main thing.” says co-founder Solis. “But we have a wide range of things available: artist’s handmade goods, jewelry, custom toys; we also have t-shirts and original works of art. We have a lot of prints: gig posters, linocuts, lithos, offset prints.” We discussed the project with Solis.
How did you meet each other and get involved in launching this project?
We had known each other for a long time. Pablo and I had known each other for years and years and years. Through him I met Teresa Magaña, his girlfriend. His partner. We had been doing fairs awhile independently, then we hooked up and started working together in a conceptual way, producing our own work together and selling our work. We started out like that and friends started asking us, since we were making the rounds at so many events, ‘Could you sell this or that for me?’ So we took our friend’s work and we really enjoyed it, working with those artists, helping other artists and the three of us kept saying, ‘Oh man, I always wanted to have my own place,’ so we had that idea already. We functioned as a pop-up shop for a year and a half, so we were all over the city, six months in a café. It helped really solidify our base even more. People were asking, where’s your shop?
Your shop presents a very curated, very manicured selection of makers and their works. How do you go about selecting works for your shop?
Yes. Another thing we do a lot is work with working artists. Not exclusively, and not necessarily emerging in the sense of age, but to give those who haven’t had it, a chance to show their work. It’s really great to have that intersection, that interchange, for people to see what artists do with their work, maybe they can present slide shows about their work. People are bringing us things every day and it’s just impossible—we can’t take everything but we’re really good at letting people know where they might be able to go to get their work viewed or seen, coffee shops or alternative spaces. So we’re very open to that. We curate monthly shows. We didn’t intend it to work out that way, but it did since Pablo and I have experience with it, we decided it would be monthly moving forward.
Upcoming exhibitions include Gatas Mutantes, a showcase of the all-female collective Mujeres Mutantes. In celebration of International Women’s Month in March, they will be exhibiting their collection of transformed vinyl Hello Kitty dolls and hosting women-themed workshops. Other future workshops at the shop include a Hello Kitty painting workshop on March 29 with Akira Padilla-Aguirre, and a t-shirt making workshop with Delilah Salgado on March 21. Both are $5 and take place at times throughout the day. Pilsen Outpost, 1958 West 21st, (773)492-2412, pilsenoutpost.com.
Maker Recommended: Lather Brushes at Merz Apothecary’s Q Brothers
Given the strangely unexpected rise of the lumbersexual in contemporary culture, facial hair grooming and maintenance has taken on an entirely new dimension. Q Brothers, the new breakaway store by the bath-and-body luxuriance specialists at Merz Apothecary, offers up an unparalleled selection of lather brushes rare to have gathered in one place. They’re made of a titillating array of materials including nickel and carved faux-ivories, resembling sculptural objects d’art, with furs and bristles made of pure badger hair. Come prepared to spend: these run in the $60-$150 range. Q Brothers at Merz Apothecary, 4718 North Lincoln, (773)989-0900.
Maker Recommended: 1canoe2’s Letterpress Cards @ Lillstreet Art Center Store
Wish you were here? Get well soon? World’s best dad? These days if you’re looking to go so far as send an actual card, might as well make it something unique and well-made. 1canoe2’s letterpress card station at the front counter of Lillstreet Art Center’s café and store offers a variety of hand-pressed and savvy, sometimes twee and cheeky cards to choose from. A favorite was the punny “Dad to the Bone,” though there’s one for pretty much any and every occasion including all the usual Halloween and birthday and appreciation cards, along with a playing card Queen of Hearts smiling a suspiciously Mona Lisa grin. Visually quirky and illustriously well-crafted, Lillstreet has the finest selection in the city. Lillstreet Art Center, 4401 North Ravenswood, (773)769-4226. 1canoe2.com