The Ed Paschke Art Center’s permanent collection space features the paintings, works on paper and sculpture of legendary Chicago artist Ed Paschke. Although Paschke’s art is in numerous collections here and abroad, EPAC has the largest collection of Paschke work on permanent public view anywhere in the world.
EPAC’s permanent collection includes work from Paschke’s many different periods and styles. Early on, Paschke made collage-like paintings of pop archetypes, such as pin-ups, boxers, and musicians decorated with tattoos and masks. Overtime, his compositions emptied out. Stripped down to a single figure, they featured urban, nocturnal, off-brand celebrities, such as burlesque dancers and club-goers.
As Paschke’s reference material shifted from print to electronic media, such as television and video, the recognizable faces and crisp edges of his forms dissolved. His last series of work featured highly patterned, decoratively embellished likenesses from history, religion and politics. These icons were symbols of American identity, values, dreams and nightmares.
EPAC’s permanent collection highlights outstanding examples from each of these stages, featuring work that spans his entire career, from 1969-2004. Only an estimated 25% of our holdings are on view at any given time, so the installation will rotate periodically.
An installation that re-imagines Paschke’s Howard Street Studio is also on permanent display. Featuring all original items, including unfinished art works, souvenirs, ephemera, and source material amassed over the twenty-four year period he worked there, items on view both influenced and inspired Paschke.
The Studio display also gives viewers invaluable insight into Paschke’s painting techniques, such as his black and white under painting, along with his tools of the trade, such as the household sponges he used to achieve the depth of volume and radiant color his paintings are known for.
Kept in storage until EPAC gave them a home, the Howard Street Studio display represents the most extensive re-installation of Paschke’s studio since the artist’s death in 2004.
The newest addition to EPAC’s permanent collection is Ed Paschke’s Vaca Victoria. The sculpture was part of Chicago’s “Cows on Parade,” the largest and most successful temporary public art project the city ever mounted. It ran from June–October, 1999 and showcased over 300 different fiberglass cows embellished by some of Chicago’s top artists.
Paschke’s Vaca Victoria originally stood at 215 W. Superior in River North, but was only on public view for a few short days. A controversy ensued over some of the symbols he painted on it, including local gang symbols. Other elements of his composition included a head painted in the style of the Chicago Bulls logo and six stars representing their championship wins.
Vaca Victoria joins EPAC’s permanent collection thanks to a generous gift from Averill and Bernard Leviton. It is the first time it’s been on public view for over 15 years.
To find out more about Ed Paschke’s life, or to see an image gallery of his artwork, please visit the Ed Paschke Foundation's website.