‘Northside Cultural District’ proposed for Downtown Jefferson Park, includes Ed Paschke, veterans art museums
by BRIAN NADIG
A proposed “Northside Cultural District” in Downtown Jefferson Park would include the Ed Paschke Art Center, the Chicago Art Center and the National Veterans Art Museum.
The complex would consist of an existing building at 5415 W. Higgins Ave. that currently houses the Ed Paschke center and a new three-story structure which would be built at 5374 W. Lawrence Ave., where a house was demolished in 2019 for a nine-flat apartment proposal that failed to materialize.
The 20,628-square-foot complex also would include a rear addition to the building on Higgins, and the two museum buildings may be connected via a walkway over an alley that separates the two parcels.
The project is being designed by the Chicago-based John Ronan Architects, which was one of the finalists for the Obama Presidential Library.
Plans also call for a nearby café inside the 135-year-old Esdohr House, 4820 N. Long Ave., which is located on the grounds of Jefferson Memorial Park and once served as the park’s craft shop. The cafe would be operated in partnership with the Jefferson Memorial Park Advisory Council.
A zoning proposal is required for the project, and Alderman James Gardiner (45th) will hold a virtual community meeting on the project at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28.
“By bringing together three incredible arts organizations operating under a shared roof we will all realize our vision to offer free access, equity, and inspirational programming to elevate the arts in Chicago,” said Vesna Stelcer, co-founder of EPAC and Northside Cultural District. She added that local input for the project was solicited from the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association and Jefferson Park Forward.
Gardiner said, “I am excited to partner with these organizations to help make art more accessible to the residents of our community. By working collaboratively, we can continue to build upon the artistic foundation that the Ed Paschke Art Center has brought to Jefferson Park while welcoming new expressions of art.”
The veterans museum would be relocated from its existing location at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the Six Corners commercial district. The veterans museum has more than 2,500 artifacts and has been based on the Far Northwest Side for close to 10 years.
The Chicago Art Center is a new exhibit-focused entity. “It is based on the experience of providing world-class exhibitions at the Ed Art Paschke Art Center and realizing the need for equitable access to art and artists, especially Chicago artists,” project officials said.
The Ed Paschke center opened in Jefferson Park in 2014 His 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.
Paschke, a Chicagoan who died in 2004, belonged to a group known as the imagists who were influenced by abstract and expressionist art and the pop movement of the 1960s.
The Milwaukee-Lawrence business district includes other cultural attractions, the Copernicus Center at 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. and the Gift Theatre at 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Both the Gift and the advisory council would serve as affiliates of the cultural district.