Stepping into the Ed Paschke Art Center on Chicago’s northwest side is like being sucked into a pop-art nightmare and finding yourself in a tug-of-war between fear and fascination. The images feel a bit revulsive, but you can’t stop wondering what’s around the next corner.
Paschke, one of the founders of the Chicago-born Imagist Movement of the ’60s and ’70s, wanted it that way. Using bold lines and electric colors, he created faces that appear to glow—almost as if you’re seeing them on a malfunctioning TV—and human figures layered in graffiti, crime and fetishism.
“One of my favorite statements by Paschke was that either you love it or you hate it,” says Vesna K. Stelcer, the center’s director, “but rarely are you indifferent to it.”
The small center—a renovated brick storefront near where Paschke lived most of his life—features a re-creation of his studio. And starting May 20, it will host a collection of his art curated by the University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. Many of the pieces are privately owned, and none have been exhibited here before.
Re-creation of Paschke's studio. Photo courtesy of Paschke Art Center.
Located just across the street from the Jefferson Park Transit Center, the art space is easy to reach on the CTA Blue Line. Admission is free (edpaschkeartcenter.org).