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Ed Paschke's Controversial Gang Sign-Covered Cow To Go Back on Parade

By Heather Cherone | January 27, 2015 5:34am
  "Vaca Victoria," Ed Paschke's contribution to the 1999 "Cows on Parade" public art exhibit, was yanked from the show.
"Vaca Victoria," Ed Paschke's contribution to the 1999 "Cows on Parade" public art exhibit, was yanked from the show.
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Ed Paschke Foundation

JEFFERSON PARK — A cow covered with gang signs — painted by Chicago artist Ed Paschke as part of public art exhibit — will go on display Monday for the first time since it was yanked from Chicago's streets because of complaints from police officers 15 years ago.

The Ed Paschke Art Center, 5415 W. Higgins Ave., in Jefferson Park will reopen Feb. 2 with an exhibit featuring "Vaca Victoria," Paschke's contribution to Chicago's 1999 "Cows on Parade" exhibit.

Paschke, whose colorful and up-close paintings of people's faces drew international acclaim, covered his red-and-white cow with gang logos and insignias from a host of Chicago gangs, including the El Rukns, Simon City Royals, Vice Lords, Four Corner Hustlers, Latin Kings and Maniac Latin Disciples.

 Ed Paschke
Ed Paschke
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The Ed Paschke Foundation

Heather Cherone explains why the cow was originally removed from the streets:

Paschke, who died in 2004, told the Sun-Times he painted the bovine's head red to match the Chicago Bulls' logo and included six stars to represent each of the team's NBA championships in tribute to the team's ability to bring Chicagoans of all walks of life together.

However, some Chicago police officers were outraged by what they considered a "monument to gangs," and city officials said they were worried that the cow might be vandalized by other gang members looking to add their crew's logo to the work.

Within a few days of going on display, Paschke's cow was moved off the street — where most of the cows were installed — and put behind glass near the Merchandise Mart before being moved to a Downtown gallery and sold, with the proceeds going to charity, according to news reports.

The cow has not been displayed publicly since 1999, said Lionel Rabb, founder of the Paschke art center.

Paschke, often called Chicago's most important visual artist, rose to prominence in the late 1960s as part of a group of pop artists known as the Imagists.

Paschke's work focused on manipulating the images of iconic figures such as Elvis Presley, Abraham Lincoln, Osama Bin Laden and Adolf Hitler, and was often controversial.

Paschke's work has been featured in a retrospective at the Art Institute and at the Pompidou Center in Paris.

The Ed Paschke Art Center, funded by the Rabb Family Foundation, opened in June, on what would have been the artist's 75th birthday.

For more information, call 312-533-4911, go to edpaschkeartcenter.org or email info@edpaschkeartcenter.org.

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