A gallery is born

Charlie Knipp and Jenny St. Ours

Photo by Josh Cozine

As Charlie Knipp and Jenny St. Ours prepared their East Out West Gallery for its grand opening this weekend, they left their shop door unlocked and happily greeted the many passersby who wandered in out of curiosity—offering even to make special arrangements for small sales, despite their register not yet being fully functional. Knipp originally envisioned East Out West as a traveling exhibit that would set up at varying West Coast music festivals. A Virginia native who moved to Chico in 2013, Knipp sold and displayed custom art and jewelry with another East Coast artist for a time, but that venture fizzled out. He subsequently met St. Ours, who is originally from Wisconsin and felt the name was still fitting. She added her business know-how and marketing skills to the mix, along with her lifelong passion for art, and East Out West was reborn. Six weeks ago, they began setting up a permanent gallery at 228 Main St. They’ve displayed paintings from a handful of artists around the gallery, along with brightly colored specialty printed clothing and hats, as well as select local products and custom jewelry. Stop by Saturday (Sept. 30), 11 a.m.-9 p.m., for the grand opening, with live bands, live paintings by one of their featured artists and limited-edition clothing.

How did you two meet?

St. Ours [laughing]: We met on Tinder—on my friend’s Tinder—probably a little over a year and a half ago for a friendly meet-and-greet …. Then we saw each other out a couple months later and hit it off at Lost on Main. It’s a funny story.

Why Chico?

St. Ours: We live here. This is our home base, and I felt like Chico was lacking in something like this. A couple of the galleries here that previously existed have gone out of business …

Knipp: Well, they didn’t really have the same kind of thing as we do here.

St. Ours: We also noticed that when we were wanting to buy clothes, we were having a difficult time finding a place that carried the style and the brands that we liked, and we decided that would be a good supplement to just having art on display as well.

Knipp: Yeah, I like the Fab Lab a lot, and all the music that comes through [Chico] ….

St. Ours: And the people are great! I just really like the people here and the community.

What do you think will be most popular in your store?

St. Ours: I think the clothing is going to be our bread and butter, along with the smaller items. We hope to get some more local artists up on display.

How do you pick which art to display?

St. Ours: A lot of it is based off of personal taste, since, you know, it’s going to be displayed in our store. We like colorful, although some of the pieces don’t necessarily fit into that structure. There’s a couple of artists that we’ve talked to about having a gallery night where they could display their pieces as more of a commission-type thing. We just want to keep showing the artwork that we like, and hopefully other people will like it, too.