A new center devoted to the late artist Ed Paschke will open later this month in Chicago, to coincide with what would have been the artist’s 75th birthday. Paschke was one of a group of artists informally known as the Chicago Imagists, who began exhibiting regularly in the 1960s and ’70s. The Imagists offered a figurative, surreal, often funny and twisted take on pop culture. Paschke’s art was particularly dark in its sensibilities and bright in its colors: “Imagine a phosphorescent underground peopled by pimps, strippers, hustlers, wrestlers, fetishists and other lavishly accessorized miscreants from the lower depths of American society,” wrote critic Ken Johnson in a review of Paschke’s work in the New York Times in 2010.
Opening in the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Chicago on June 22, the Ed Paschke Art Center is collaboration between the Ed Paschke Foundation and the Rabb Family Foundation, the new institution’s major funder. “In December 2012, my soul mate (Lionel B. Rabb) decided to surprise me with an Ed Paschke painting, as he knew how much I loved and admired Paschke’s art,” Vesna Stelcer, board chair of the Paschke Foundation, told Hyperallergic via email. “In the process, we realized that a large number of Paschke’s works were being stored. It, therefore, seemed like the perfect opportunity to take action.”
“We wanted the public to once again experience, appreciate this Chicago-born artist who touched and influenced so many individuals, students and artists, including Jeff Koons,” said Stelcer. (Koons studied with Paschke at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and worked as Paschke’s studio assistant.)
Housing in a newly renovated building, the center will contain 2,800 square feet of gallery space, featuring a permanent Paschke collection as well as rotating temporary exhibitions, often focused on Chicago artists. The center will also house a re-creation of the artist’s studio in 2004, the year he died, plus an artist-in-residence and educational programs. The June 22 grand opening will be accompanied by a daylong community event in the park across the street, called “Paschke in the Park.” More information can be found on the artist’s website.
For those in New York, an exhibition of Ed Paschke’s work is currently on view at the Mary Boone Gallery (541 West 24th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through June 28.