Go up and touch it! You won’t believe it’s not paint!
The spectacular Ed Paschke Mural on Lawrence at Avondale, once started by Arts Alive has been brought into the new century with amazing technology thanks to The Rabb Family Foundation, The Paschke Foundation and the 3M Company. Together they selected this project and the Jefferson Park location to showcase a brilliant new product. The mural on Lawrence Ave and Avondale under the viaduct is comprised of selected works which celebrate the genius of Chicago native Ed Paschke; the twelve images of his work shown there were selected by The Ed Paschke Foundation. The mural is made possible through the generous support of The Rabb Family Foundation and The 3M Company.
Nadig News story:
by JASON PORTERFIELD
The Arts Alive 45 organization is planning a “gateway” mural honoring the late Chicago artist Ed Paschke that would be painted under the Metra viaduct at Lawrence and Avondale avenues.
The mural project will consist of original murals featuring Paschke’s work painted on both walls of the viaduct, which is east of the Copernicus Cultural and Civic Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. A request for proposals for a design for the project closed on June 12. The project is being done by the Paschke Foundation and the Rabb Family Foundation.
The north wall of the viaduct measures 120 feet by 12 feet, with a 20-foot wraparound on the east side. The south wall is 110 feet by 12 feet, with a 20-foot wraparound on the east side. The sidewalk-facing walls of two column walls that separate the sidewalk from the roadway with 11 30-inch-wide columns each also will be painted.
“Both the alderman’s arts advisory committee and a number of area businesses have discussed wanting to clean up the underpasses viewed as gateways to the neighborhood,” Arts Alive 45 president Cyd Smillie said. “Arts Alive contacted the Rabb Family Foundation to fund a mural, and discussions led to including the Paschke Foundation and designing an entirely Paschke mural to honor his Chicago and Polish roots. The obvious gateway at that point became the one at Avondale.”
The “Jazz, Jefferson Park” mural located on the northwest wall of the viaduct will remain and will be incorporated into the design. The existing mural features dancers, a train car and symbols of Polish and American culture and was sponsored in part by the Copernicus Foundation. A community marker and plantings placed at the southwest wall by the Wilson Avenue Community Association also will remain in place.
“It is fortuitous and very cool that early Paschke work from the 1960s is very sympathetic in the use of color and symbols to what is already there,” Smillie said. “It is very, very possible to have them side by side if all parties agree that it doesn’t take away from either design.”
The request for proposals specifies that all work must incorporate Paschke’s art “in a manner that fully respects the integrity of his work and represents his accomplishments as a great Chicago artist.” Arts Alive 45 will supply artists and paint for the mural, and the artist selected will be paid $500 for the design and will receive credit as the designer. More than one artist may be selected.
Smillie said that the Paschke Foundation does not want a mural that would be derivative of Paschke’s work. “Their guidelines have been to show Mr. Paschke’s art in its true form,” she said. “Arts Alive is hoping to have a proposal that both respects the integrity and specifics of Mr. Paschke’s work and the location. It would be less honorable to paint one image after another at twice the scale of the original work without a place for the eye to rest.”
Smillie said that the Paschke Foundation does not want to see elements of the artist’s work separated from each other or taken out of context. “We have to establish a compromise between reproduction and interpretation,” she said.
Smillie said that she has obtained permits for the mural and that she is ready to begin preparing the site as soon as the foundation chooses a design, pending approval from the 45th Ward Arts Advisory Committee.
Smillie said that the north wall of the viaduct is in good shape but that the south wall will require extensive cleaning. She said that the mural elements that are painted on the columns probably will only be on the side facing pedestrians.
Other Arts Alive 45 murals include the “End of Watch” fallen police officer mural located on the Metra viaduct at Montrose and Knox avenues, the “First Responders” memorial mural at Sunnyside and Milwaukee avenues, and the “Deco Hounds” mural in the pass-through at the Klee Building, 4006 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Paschke was born at Saint Elizabeth Hospital in 1939. He and his family lived in the neighborhood near Diversey and Central Park avenues until 1948 and later near Addison Street and Harlem Avenue.
Paschke earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961 and a master of fine arts degree from the school in 1970. He taught art at Northwestern University from 1978 until his death in 2004.
Paschke belonged to a group of artists known as the Imagists and painted in as style that was influenced by the abstract and expressionist art and by the pop art movement of the 1960s. He specialized in a portrait style that incorporated images gathered from such sources as newspapers, magazines and television.