Paschke Art Center to reopen next summer, temporary sculpture garden planned for site of new museum campus
by BRIAN NADIG
The Ed Paschke Art Center, 5415 W. Higgins Ave., is scheduled to reopen by next summer, while a temporary sculpture garden is planned for the site of a new museum campus proposed in Jefferson Park.
“We want to beautify the neighborhood and get these sites reactivated,” said Lionel Rabb, who along with Vesna Stelcer founded the art center and are the creators behind the planned Northside Cultural District at the northeast corner of Lawrence and Long avenues. The center has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
The center building will be undergoing renovations and offer a “very different experience” when it reopens next year by June 22, 2023, which would have been Paschke’s 84th birthday, Rabb said.
Paschke, a Chicagoan who died in 2004, belonged to a group of artists known as the imagists who were influenced by abstract and expressionist art and the pop movement of the 1960s.
Plans call for the site of the art center to eventually be incorporated into the museum campus, which is contingent on a pending zoning application, and a photography center that would digitize, archive and exhibit pictures from a wide range of collections is being considered for part of the 20,628-square-foot campus, he said.
Under the proposal, the Paschke center would be relocated to a new three-story building which would be constructed on a vacant lot at 5374 W. Lawrence Ave. A 4,600-square-foot addition to the rear of the art center building would also be built.
Tentative plans also call for the two buildings to be connected via a second-floor walkway over the alley that separates the Higgins and Lawrence properties. The walkway would be contingent on approval from the city Department of Transportation.
The project is designed by the Chicago-based John Ronan Architects, which was one of the finalists for the Obama Presidential Library.
The sculpture garden will open this year on the vacant parcel and feature the works of veterans, Rabb said. The garden will remain on the site until construction is ready to start on the museum campus, he said.
The campus district plan also calls for a cafe inside the 140-year-old Esdohr House, 4820 N. Long Ave. on the grounds of Jefferson Memorial Park. The cafe will be operated in partnership with the Jefferson Memorial Park Advisory Council, which will receive a portion of the proceeds, Rabb said.
The cafe is called Henry’s Place, named after Henry Esdohr, who was a politician and business owner. It would be operated by Ashley Romero, who has a culinary arts background, he said.
The Chicago Park District’s Concessions Program and Henry’s Place have entered into a 5-year agreement for the building, which once served as the park’s craft shop, Rabb said. Repairs reportedly would have to be made before the building is turned over to Henry’s Place, which Rabb said may initially open for carryout only before the build out of the cafe is completed.
Rabb is chairman of the Jefferson Memorial Park Advisory Council. It’s unclear when the cafe will open.
The Ed Paschke Art Center, which opened in 2014, announced the center’s reopening plans earlier this week on its Web site, which is available at www.edpaschkeartcenter.org.