JEFFERSON PARK — A prominent Far Northwest Side arts center that’s been closed throughout the pandemic will reopen next summer.
The Ed Paschke Art Center, 5415 W. Higgins Ave., is reopening June 22, 2023, co-founder Lionel Rabb said. The center, which started in 2014 and is dedicated to acclaimed Chicago artist Ed Paschke, is relaunching on what would have been Paschke’s 84th birthday.
“It’s coming back,” Rabb said. “We are moving this to the front of the burner to try to get it open for the community.”
The Ed Paschke Art Center embodies Paschke’s role as an artist, teacher and mentor through a gallery exhibiting local talent and an artist residency program. The center’s educational resources for youth, adults, artists and academics have removed barriers to the art world and given artists platforms to showcase their work, its leaders say.
Rabb and his partner and co-founder, Vesna Stelcer, are planning to renovate the 2,800-square-foot exhibit space that will feature a new gallery, more artist showcases and a larger educational space. Although the pandemic slowed the center’s plans, Rabb said they are working with the city to get the required permits.
Its reopening is part of the planned Northside Cultural District coming to Jefferson Park’s downtown area.
The district will bring together The Chicago Art Center, The Ed Paschke Art Center and the National Veterans Art Museum, co-located in a modern 35,000-square-foot cultural center under a “single-campus concept,” according to project designers John Ronan Architects.
The concept will build a rear addition on the Higgins Avenue facility. A three-story building is planned for 5374 W. Lawrence Ave., where a house was demolished in 2019 for a nine-flat apartment proposal that never materialized.
The two museum buildings could be connected via a walkway over an alley that separates the two lots, according to project renderings.
The new building is still in the works but The Ed Paschke Art Center founders, who are also the leaders in the Northside Cultural District, want to get the original center open first after a long hiatus.
“Let’s get the old one reopened so we can get Ed’s stuff back on view,” Rabb said.
The goal of the Northside Cultural District is to create a unifying vision for advancing arts, culture, and access as “vital contributors to our community and economy,” its founders wrote in announcing the project last year.
“I am excited to partner with these organizations to help make art more
accessible to the residents of our community,” Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) said in a statement in 2021. “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.”
Developers applied for a zoning change in February 2021 to build out the campus. That application is still pending, according to the City Council website.
A cafe also included in the arts district plans could open later this summer inside the Esdohr House, 4820 N. Long Ave., on the east side of Jefferson Memorial Park. Henry’s Cafe will serve breakfast foods, including parties, baked goods, egg sandwiches. The operator, resident Ashley Romero, hopes to expand to lunch and cold drinks.
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