It’s never too early to get your kids hooked on art. But if hours spent indoors wandering a museum sounds like a tough sell on a summer day, take your young appreciators to the new Ed Paschke Art Center in Jefferson Park instead. Filled with electrifying oil paintings by the famous Chicago artist, the center offers a quick burst of pop-art eye candy for kids — and there’s plenty to do nearby.

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What You’ll See
First, check out the huge Paschke mural on the outside of the building — stop and snap a selfie with your kids to commemorate your visit. Then head inside the gleaming, 4,500-square-foot space to immerse yourselves in the colorful world of Paschke on three levels. Take in an impressive collection of large-scale paintings on the main floor, then head upstairs to see a replica of Paschke’s studio as it looked before he died in 2004. Your kids will see what a fabulously messy artist’s workspace is really like, from the metal cans jammed with paintbrushes to a door covered with handwritten notes and personal photos.

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Get Creative
At a desk just inside the front entrance, you’ll find a stack of Ed Paschke coloring books that were created to celebrate the opening of the center and make Paschke’s work accessible to all. They’re a free souvenir that your kids can take home — or you can grab one and head downstairs to the education room on the lower level, where there are boxes of crayons set out on long tables so kids can get started coloring inside (or outside!) Paschke’s lines. Around the perimeter of the room, you’ll find a display of local high-school students’ self-portraits inspired by Paschke’s work.

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Plan Your Visit
The Ed Paschke Art Center is free and is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Sundays. There’s easy meter parking nearby, and the center is located across the street from a CTA transit center (Blue Line and bus service, Metra and Pace). It’s also just steps from Jefferson Memorial Park (4822 N. Long Ave.), where there’s a playground, public pool and spray pool. About five blocks away is Central Kitchen and Tap, an affordable counter-service joint with a “Think of the Children” section on the menu. Entrees like a sloppy Joe ($6) or mini chicken corn dogs ($6) come with a side item (or carrots and celery) and an ice cream cone.

Ed Paschke Art Center
5415 W. Higgins Ave.
Jefferson Park
312-533-4911
Online: edpaschke.org

Will you take your kids to this awesome new spot? Let us know in the Comments!

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— Red Tricycle Editors

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 photos: copyright©2014 Barbara Kinney; top photo features Marc Paschke (Ed’s son) and his family