New art center opening held


A couple’s desire to buy a painting by the late Chicago artist Ed Paschke led to a new art center in Jefferson Park that attracted more than a 1,000 visitors during its opening last weekend.

Lionel Rabb met Paschke’s son Marc at an art storage facility to look at some of the artist’s works, and that encounter helped generate the idea for what eventually became the Ed Paschke Art Center at 5415 W. Higgins Ave. Rabb and his longtime partner, Vesna Stelcer, live a couple blocks from the 4,500-square-foot art center.

"Vesna said why not put these works in a museum where everyone can see them for free, and here we are 18 months later," Rabb said on a tour of the center last week. "Some of these works have not been seen in 10 years."

The Rabb Family Foundation worked with the Ed Paschke Foundation on the concept for the center. The center’s official opening was on June 22, which would have been the 75th birthday of the artist, who died in 2004.

Paschke’s art often features intricate patterns and vibrant colors, and his works have been shown in some of the most famous art museums in the world. He belonged to a group known as the imagists who were influenced by abstract and expressionist art and the pop movement of the 1960s.

The center is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week, and admission is free. It includes a re-creation of Paschke’s studio, about 40 of his works and an educational center which will showcase exhibits by Chicago artists.

The Paschke paintings which are on display include "American Sueno," "Accordion Man" and "Canal Cinco." The paintings on display will be changed periodically.

The Rabb Foundation, which is funding the art center, has spent thousands of dollars sponsoring events at Jefferson Park, 4822 N. Long Ave., in the last 2 years. A recent Paschke-inspired art festival attracted 1,500 people to the park, and art work created by children at the festival will be displayed at the center.

The foundation funds projects in neighborhoods throughout the country, Rabb said.

The art center is in a building which for decades was home to the Knobe the Stationer store. About 5 years ago the building was being used as an unlicensed nightclub that police closed.

An image of Paschke’s "Luna Negra" painting was transferred to a film wrap, and it was installed as a mural on the side of the building.

Another mural that features several of Paschke’s works was put up last year on the walls of a railroad viaduct in the 5100 block of West Lawrence Ave.