Make a gift to help keep Atlanta Contemporary free, safe, and open to all.
January 11, 2018 – March 11, 2018
Contemporary On-site presents, Pasaquan.
Deep in the woods of rural Marion County, Georgia, Eddie Owens Martin created one of the most important works of art in American history. Pasaquan is a seven-acre art environment that features an original farmhouse built in 1885, a ‘sitting room’, a sand-dance pit and a Kiva, a partially buried circular chamber designed for Pueblo Indian ceremonies. Utilizing a mélange of African, Polynesian, Easter Island, and Pre-Columbian symbolism Eddie painted a kaleidoscope of unholy visceral colors that blast off beneath the pines. The site effortlessly pushes and pulsates, if you embrace the psychic powers of the place, it feels like being transported inside of a Gauguin painting.
After Eddie passed on in 1986 the Pasaquan Preservation Society did their best to honor what he had left behind. After nearly 30 years The Kohler Foundation, a philanthropic organization, began bringing the site back to life. Today it is run by director Mike McFalls and caretaker Charles Fowler through the management of Columbus State University. Since the grand reopening Pasaquan was named one of the 16 intriguing things to see and do in the U.S. in 2016 by CNN.
After making the pilgrimage to Buena Vista it is easy to be seduced by the wild exterior of this mystical visionary environment. However, you would be doing yourself a disservice as inside Eddie’s former home there is a tremendous collection of paintings on canvas and paper bring jitters when I think about them. Long before Eddie began transforming the compound, he was a painter. For nearly 30 years he would faithfully spend mornings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Museum of Natural History, looking, learning about an array of exotic cultures. He would tell fortunes in a Times Square tea room from 3pm until 10pm and then return to the St. James Hotel to paint thru the night. Much like Pasaquan the paintings are deep and lush, his cultural explorations are full of intense mystery. He illustrates magic lands with infinite possibilities. Mayans, Egyptians, and Polynesians are luxuriously dressed playing music in a field or making pottery on a stage. Young tarty male faces smile back at the viewer as they radiate love and joy via hypnotic hues that beam from all around them.
Eddie never received his due accolades for his paintings. Months after the Village Voice referred to him as “one of the most colorful registrants” at the annual Washington Square Outdoor Art Show, he returned to Buena Vista. Pasaquan itself is the centerpiece, but the paintings are the fine China orbing the table. They reinforce Eddie’s dreams and desires for refuge, an accepting place to escape to. Within these frames Eddie will forever be in motion.
Eddie Owens Martin, a self-taught Southern artist, drew inspiration from many colorful cultures to develop the 7-acre, internationally recognized visionary art environment known as Pasaquan.