Ed Pashke, American (1939 - 2004)

 Born in 1939 in a small house in a quiet suburb of Chicago, he became one of Chicagos most extraordinary artists. As a child his interest in drawing led him to a degree program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. While commuting by train, he would practice his craft of drawing in a realistic manner, but in school he learned to paint expressionistically, that is expressing an emotional response, seizing the moment, which was a different interpretation from the way ones eye perceives it. Studying at a prestigious museum gave him ample opportunity to view the works of important artists of the time, masterpieces as well as major exhibitions of Picasso, Seurat and Gauguin whose influence affected his work.

After graduation, he worked as an illustrator and successfully sold his work to "Playboy" magazine. While working as a commercial artist by day, he found that his nights were obsessed by the disenfranchised. He wandered the streets of ethnic neighborhoods observing the seamier side of life. Transvestites, hookers, strippers, drunks and tattoo parlors became his metier. He worked for a while in a factory that employed only Latinos and later took a job in a psychiatric unit to satisfy his interest in abnormal behavior. "Outsiders and freaks" you might call this course of study. But consider how his minds storehouse of visual images had grown. He was awarded the travel fellowship from SAIC enabling him to visit Europe and Mexico, further enriching his lexicon of visual aberrations.

Paschke was drafted into the Army in 1962 and during his two years of service, illustrated weapons manuals and pursued AWOL soldiers in the South. When he returned to Chicago, he worked briefly for a display company and then returned to the SAIC on his G.I. Bill and received his M.F.A. and married a fellow student. With a Masters Degree, he could teach, earn a living, and most important, continue painting.

While still in school, he had exhibited with the "Chicago Imagists" and the "Hairy Who," two groups that were responding to the growing POP ARTISTS popularized in New York. Paschke worked in various media portraying inhabitants of fringes of society. Andy Warhols series of "Marilyn Monroe" and Marshall McLuhans "The Medium Is The Message" were sparks in Paschkes imagination that led to even more outrageous portrayals. With "tattoos and fantastical costumes, Paschke began to concentrate on elaborately costumed figures against richly patterned background" (Thomas and Hudson). He worked with an overhead projector combining many diverse elements into one wildly luminous composition. "Spectral bands of color cut through both figure and background." Masked people emerged with black holes for eyes. Disturbing images provoked audiences, enlivened critics, and his fame grew. He has had one-man shows from Chicago to Paris and retrospectives in major museums. Still teaching, he has been Chairman of the Arts and Theory Department at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois since 1977.


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