The daughter of mexican immigrants, culture maven Nancy Villafranca-Guzman grew up in Pilsen, two blocks from the National Museum of Mexican Art. She started working there in high school, eventually running the education department. Two years ago, she became the deputy commissioner of programming at the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. When not working on various local events, like this month’s Taste of Chicago and World Music Festival Chicago, the 45-year-old Garfield Ridge resident enjoys shopping with an artisan’s eye for beauty.

Solei Boutique

3738 W. 26th St., Little Village

“It imports from Mexico, which is important to me. When I first walked in, I felt like a child entering a candy store. Let’s just say I spend quite a bit of money there.”


Hand-painted jewelry set
Photograph: Solei Boutique

Hand-painted jewelry set “This folk-art version of the sacred heart really speaks to my pride in my heritage.” $45

Michoacán leather purse “It’s the perfect-size crossbody. It’s not too loud, but you can still distinguish the Mexican floral pattern.” $75



1937 W. Division St., East Ukrainian Village

“This is where I learned to make jewelry. They always have incense burning, a beautiful soundscape, and beads from all over the world.”


Watermelon tourmaline ring
Photograph: Beadniks

Watermelon tourmaline ring “It embodies everything: It’s got the gold, the pink, the brown. The first word that comes to mind is ‘yummy.’ ” $99

Sapphire gemstone bracelet “The bead in the center has multiple pigments. It says ‘I’m here,’ but isn’t over the top.” $19


Pilsen Arts & Community House
Photography: Pilsen Arts & Community House

Pilsen Arts & Community House

1637 W. 18th St., Pilsen

“Part of this nonprofit is a gallery. I was recently there for a show of beautiful textile art.”


‘Separate Is Never Equal’

Separate Is Never Equal “This children’s book tells an important story about a lesser-known fight for desegregation seven years before Brown v. Board of Ed.$19

‘Blue Line’ by Laura Gomez

Blue Line by Laura Gomez “Printmaking is such an important medium for me. I used the Blue Line a lot as a teenager, so this one has history for me.” $200