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Art Mon Aug 04 2014

Ed Paschke's Art Finds a New Home in His Old Neighborhood

The work of a Chicago artist who won national and international fame is settled in at a small museum in Jefferson Park, near the neighborhood where he grew up.

Ed Paschke, whose vividly colored and brilliantly grotesque paintings are part of the collections of major American and European museums, grew up the son of Polish immigrant parents on the northwest side of Chicago and lived there much of his life. The new museum dedicated to his work is the Ed Paschke Art Center at 5415 W. Higgins Ave. in Jefferson Park.

The center, which opened in June, exhibits about 40 Paschke works -- mostly paintings (oil on linen), but also prints and colograms (a digital photographic process that results in a 3D-like effect). His Howard Street studio, where he worked from 1980 until his death in 2004, is meticulously recreated. In addition, a 30-minute video runs continuously, showing Paschke working, talking about how he works, and teaching a class of art students at Northwestern University. The video is well done and worth watching for insights into the work and thinking of this creative and articulate artist.

Paschke's imagery often reflects confrontation, violence, sex and garishly hued scenes from the underbelly of society...the underbelly of diverse Chicago life he liked to observe from his Howard Street studio. Many of his works are portraits of characters like "Accordion Man" or "Four Se," shown here, or "Red Buddha" or "MJ II," a portrait of Michael Jordan's perfect bald head. See the website gallery for more examples of his work. Paschke once said of his art, people "either love it or hate it but rarely are they indifferent to it."

GB-Paschke-accordionman.jpgHis artist father was an influence, and Paschke also said he was influenced by Disney animation and cartoons. He earned a BFA and an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he became part of a group of artists known as the Chicago Imagists or the Hairy Who. Paschke was known to be a generous educator, mentor and supporter of other artists. He also believed that his art should be easily accessible to the public.

The museum is located in a renovated building with 2,800 square feet of gallery space and 1,700 square feet of educational space. The Rabb Family Foundation is the major funder of the center. The Ed Paschke Foundation, which operates the center, plans an artist-in-residence program. The first events planned are an exhibit of Paul Natkin photography and an exhibit by photographer Steve Schapiro, titled "Andy Warhol, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground."

Paschke's works are owned by museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C.; and the Centre George Pompidou and the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The Ed Paschke Art Center at 5415 W. Higgins Ave, Chicago, is open 10am to 7pm daily; admission is free. The center is a short walk from the Jefferson Park Blue Line station. For more information, call 312-533-4911 or visit the website.

Photos courtesy the Ed Paschke Art Center.


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By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
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