Pasaquan Re-Opens with Live Music and Tall Tales

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University and philanthropic organization The Kohler Foundation Inc. officially re-opened Pasaquan, St. EOM’s “pre-Columbian psychedelic wonderland” and internationally recognized art environment, to the public Saturday, Oct. 22.

Pasaquan Opening

“Even before Pasaquan officially opened, it had already become a true experiential, interdisciplinary learning center for our students,” said Michael McFalls, director of Pasaquan and professor of art at CSU. “We’ve had over 95 CSU students from four different academic departments and interns from across the country doing research on the site and in CSU Archives. Pasaquan fits into our academic mission with a commitment to community outreach and a dedication to teaching, learning, scholarship and creative research.”

With a party fit for self-taught artist Eddie Owens Martin, also known as St. EOM, the grand re-opening celebration featured music from Neal Lucas and the Freezer Burn, Blackberry Possum, Jake Xerxes Fussell ad Col. Bruce Hampton.

Artist GLO’s traveling show “from the roof down” made an appearance as did the Technicolor Face Painters. The Cosmic Cosmetologist was on site to create Pasaquan hairdos, and food, including Cosmic Pickles, was served all day long by regional food truck vendors.

Visit pasaquan.com or contact McFalls at McFalls_Michael@ColumbusState.edu to learn more about the whimsical world of Pasaquan.

About Pasaquan
Pasaquan is a 7-acre nationally recognized visionary art environment nestled in the pines of rural Marion County, roughly six miles northwest of Buena Vista, Georgia. The late Eddie Owens Martin, who introduced himself as St. EOM – pronounced Ohm- began creating Pasaquan in 1957 and continued to work on the site for 30 years. The art environment features six major structures, mandala murals and more than 900 feet of painted masonry walls. St. EOM, drew inspiration from many different cultures. Pasaquan fuses African, pre-Columbian and Native American cultural and religious symbols and designs, along with motifs inspired by Edward Churchward’s books about “The Lost Continent of MU.”

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Pasaquan: An Indigenous-Inspired Jewel of CSU and the Deep South

This story was originally published in the Spring 2016 edition of Columbus State Magazine, The Magazine of Columbus State University for Alumni & Friends, formerly Focus Magazine.

INSIDE CSU’S NEWEST CULTURAL CROWN JEWEL

Each paint stroke and metal detailing resurrects the psychedelic fortress of totems, pagodas and barriers back to their brightest beginnings.

Precise handwork and preserving hearts have spent the past two years restoring the 60-year-old Georgia gem known as Pasaquan — a world-renowned visionary art site now part of Columbus State University (CSU).

Pasaquan Group

“I’ve been working alongside art conservators on the structural repair of interior and exterior artwork,” said fine arts alumnus Charles Fowler, ’12, who has been assisting in restoration of the artistic property for a year and a half. “My favorite thing about Pasaquan is its relationship with the nearby town of Buena Vista. Judging from my interactions with the townsfolk, most of them have never been to the site but have grown up with the tall tales surrounding it.”

Nestled within rural Southwest Georgia’s “good view” town, the 7-acre weathered and religion-influenced relic has rejuvenated. And it is regaining national attention for its whimsical beauty.

At the start of the year, CNN dubbed Pasaquan as one of “16 intriguing things to see and do in the U.S. in 2016.”

“This CNN news just underscores all the hard work the Pasaquan Preservation Society, philanthropic organization Kohler Foundation, and CSU alumni and current students have been doing at Pasaquan,” said Michael McFalls, associate professor of art at CSU overseeing the site and its programming. “Our students from the Art Department, Department of Communication, and Department of History and Geography continue to be involved in documentation, organization of archives, development of a marketing plan and assisting with the conservation process. Pasaquan has already become a true experiential, interdisciplinary learning environment.”

Pasaquan’s academic awakening has been featured on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Public Broadcasting Service also has documented Pasaquan creator, the late Eddie Owens Martin, on its online “Travelogue.”

THE ARTIST

Eddie Martin

Martin became an international self-taught artist who created the art environment he named Pasaquan, meaning to “bring the past and future together.”

Developed during 1957, the folk-laden land features six major structures, mandala murals and hundreds of feet of handcrafted cement walls. Before Pasaquan came into existence, the Buena Vista native had some artistic exploring to do. Martin left home at age 14.

He embarked on a hitchhiking adventure to Atlanta and Washington, D.C., before settling in the concrete jungle of New York. He survived the big city by working as a street hustler, bartender, gambler and drag queen. At age 37, he even gave fortunetelling a try.

By 1950, Martin packed up and headed back to Buena Vista where he continued to exercise his fortunetelling flair for pay. Donning ravishing robes and feathered headdresses, Martin’s persona clashed with his small-town society. However, his oracle occupation funded his vision to develop Pasaquan.

The cultural complex took shape on Martin’s family farmland — lavishly fusing Africa, Pre-Columbian Mexico and fictional island Atlantis in design. And with it, Martin changed his name to St. EOM, the guru of Pasaquan.

Despite his outward free spirit, St. EOM committed suicide during 1986, and Pasaquan started to fade — literally.

Aside from Pasaquan, St. EOM’s work also has been featured at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Library of Congress and Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C. In Georgia, his work joins collections at the Albany Museum of Art in Albany and High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

THE ACADEMICS

Pasaquan Education

Nearly 30 years after St. EOM’s death, the Kohler Foundation became interested in bringing the crumbling keepsake back to life with CSU as an educational partner.

Pasaquan’s restoration process initiated during 2014. Since then, both current students and alumni have worked through some of Georgia’s most humid and frigid conditions to repair, repaint and unearth its structures for public viewing.

“St. EOM created hundreds of artworks and studies throughout his lifetime in addition to Pasaquan,” said senior studio art major Ashley Colbert. “For the past two months, I have been interning with the Columbus Museum and LaGrange exhibits to organize his work on paper inventory for set up later this spring. I’m learning the art of curating an exhibit, which is very tedious.”

Alumna Lauren Cantrell has documented Pasaquan’s rebirth from the project’s start date.

“I spent an entire year working with Kohler Foundation to archive St. EOM’s works of art and later his personal belongings while earning my bachelor’s degree at CSU,” said Cantrell, an art history major who graduated last year. “I’m still working on my research, carrying this experience into my master’s thesis at Georgia State University. I’m studying self-taught and visionary artists. Pasaquan is a staple in the Southern community and has had a growing following of self-taught art historians throughout the world.”

THE ADVOCACY

Pasaquan Artist

The Pasaquan Preservation Society (PPS) has maintained the folk architectural site since 2003.

The society also has worked alongside CSU and Kohler on the revitalization project, which has become the largest art environment preservation initiatives Kohler has taken on. The work includes object and painting conservation with conservators coming from International Artifacts (Houston) and Parma Conservation (Chicago).

Local tradespeople under general contractor T.G. Gregory also have addressed structural concerns and functionality in Pasaquan’s six buildings.

During 2015, Gov. Nathan Deal presented PPS with the Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities for its efforts to help preserve Pasaquan. Currently, CSU Foundation owns the property. Kohler gifted the site to the university’s foundation during December 2015.

CSU is priming Pasaquan to serve as a local attraction for hosting performances, retreats, tours, artistic workshops and various educational programs and activities. Today, the quirky, artistic community joins an impressive group of new attractions and breathtaking locations across the nation.

Pasaquan stacks up against captivating places like Alaska’s national parks; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington; the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail in New Mexico; and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles.

Renovations to the site are still in progress and slated for completion for public viewing by mid-May. A grand opening is scheduled during October.

“This site is unique because of its utopian message and use of imagery from non-Western art and philosophies,” said Cantrell. “Studying the site and working on it has given me a deeper understanding of approaching art environments. It’s in safe, caring hands.”

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Go behind the scenes of CSU’s psychedelic fortress: YouTube.com/ColumbusStateU

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CSU’s Pasaquan Recognized Among “16 intriguing things” by CNN

Pasaquan_01

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Pasaquan, a colorful cultural site now officially part of Columbus State University, made CNN’s list of “16 intriguing things to see and do in the U.S. in 2016.”

The quirky, artistic community in Buena Vista joins an impressive group of new attractions and breathtaking locations across the nation highlighted on the global news source’s online travel section: http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/08/travel/united-states-travel-destinations-2016/index.html.

“We expect this to be the first of many recognitions for Pasaquan,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “We are thrilled to have Pasaquan as part of the university and excited to watch it develop as a cultural site, tourist attraction and educational outreach center.”

Pasaquan staked up against captivating places like Alaska’s national parks; Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington; the Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail in New Mexico; and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles.

Self-taught artist Eddie Owens Martin created the 7-acre art environment named Pasaquan. The vibrant project features six major structures and hundreds of feet of psychedelic-painted totems, artifacts and fence.

Pasaquan_02

During 2014, philanthropic organization Kohler Foundation started preserving Pasaquan, which is slated for completion by spring of this year.

The project is one of the largest art environment, preservation initiatives Kohler Foundation has taken on.

The work includes both object and painting conservation with conservators coming from International Artifacts (Houston) and Parma Conservation (Chicago). Local tradespeople under general contractor T.G. Gregory also addressed structural concerns and functionality in Pasaquan’s six buildings.

During 2015, Gov. Nathan Deal presented the Pasaquan Preservation Society (PPS) with the Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities for its efforts to help preserve Pasaquan as well.

Today, CSU Foundation owns the property, which Kohler gifted to the university during December 2015. Renovations to the site are still in progress.

 

“This CNN news just underscores all the hard work PPS, Kohler and CSU students have been doing at Pasaquan,” said Michael McFalls, associate professor of art at CSU overseeing the site and its programming. “Our students from the Art Department, Department of Communication, and Department of History and Geography continue to be involved in documentation, organization of archives, developing a marketing plan and assisting with the conservation process. Pasaquan has already become a true experiential, interdisciplinary learning environment.”

Pasaquan_03

Pasaquan is set to open to the public mid-May with a grand opening scheduled during October.

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CSU Department of Art Hosts Statewide Art Education Conference

GAEA color logoCOLUMBUS, Ga. — More than 150 educators and art education students from across the state will work together to rethink ways to reuse junk as Columbus State University’s Department of Art hosts the 2015 Georgia Art Education Association (GAEA) Professional Learning Fall Conference this week in downtown Columbus.

Titled “Rethunk Junk,” the conference runs Thursday, Oct. 29, through Sunday, Nov. 1, and will address issues of sustainability and the use of recycled, reused and readapted material in the development of creative projects at the Columbus Georgia Convention & Trade Center and CSU’s Corn Center for the Visual Arts.

“GAEA continues to provide a tremendous level of support to art teachers throughout the state,” said Bret Lefler, CSU art education program coordinator and the 2013 GAEA Higher Ed Division Teacher of the Year, who is helping to organize this year’s conference. “CSU’s Department of Art is honored to have been selected by GAEA to host their annual fall conference. We look forward to showing off Columbus and working with GAEA on an outstanding conference.”

The conference also will feature workshops, panel presentations, demonstrations, vendor displays, an artist market and a juried members’ exhibition in the Corn Center’s Illges Gallery open to the public.

GAEA is a professional organization affiliated with the National Art Education Association, the largest organization devoted to Art Education programs ranging from K-12 to higher education.

Participants will receive the opportunity to visit the Columbus Museum and Pasaquan, an environmental art site in Buena Vista, Ga. and currently undergoing restoration by the Kohler Foundation.

In addition, the conference’s keynote speakers, Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, will introduce participants to their “eco artwork.” The artists are known for their projects involving the collection of plastic detritus washed up on 1,000 yards of Kehoe Beach on the Point Reyes National Seashore.

For more information, contact Joe Sanders, chair of CSU’s Department of Art, at sanders_joe@columbusstate.edu or 706-507-8302.

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Gov. Deal Awards Pasaquan Preservation Society for Contributions to Arts, Humanities

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Gov. Nathan Deal presented the Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities to the Pasaquan Preservation Society Tuesday, Oct. 6 for outstanding contributions made to Georgia’s civic and cultural vitality through the preservation of Pasaquan, which will be gifted to Columbus State University upon completion of preservation activities.

Professors and students from Columbus State University have been working closely with the Pasaquan Preservation Society and preservationists employed by the Kohler Foundation to restore and preserve the colorful seven-acre art environment created by Eddie Owens Martin, known as St. EOM, near Buena Vista, Georgia.

Pasaquan

The Society, which has maintained the site the since 1986, deeded Pasaquan last year to Kohler Foundation, who is leading the preservation of the site’s painted masonry fences, totem poles and other art artifacts.

“The Governor’s Award recognizes the hard work and perseverance of the Pasaquan Preservation Society for the last three decades,” said Mike McFalls, an associate professor of art at Columbus State University.

When preservation is complete, the site will be gifted to Columbus State University Foundation for use by the university under the direction of McFalls. The university will breathe life into the site with events, programming and educational activities, as well as tours.

Pasaquan

(L-R) Chris Markwood, president of CSU; Richard Baxter, dean of CSU’s College of the Arts; and Mike McFalls, professor of art at CSU, discuss the preservation of Pasaquan during a site visit in May 2015.

“This award confirms our confidence that through its operation of Pasaquan, the stature of the Art Department will rise to a national and potentially international level,” said Richard Baxter, dean of CSU’s College of the Arts.

The Pasaquan Preservation Society joins twelve other recipients of this year’s Governor’s Award, presented in partnership with the Georgia Council for the Arts and Georgia Humanities.

 

Columbus State University is scheduled to assume ownership of Pasaquan in December, with programming to begin in late spring, when restoration is anticipated to be complete.

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Columbus State University Enters Unique Pasaquan Partnership

KOHLER, Wis. — Kohler Foundation, Inc. of Kohler, Wis., known nationally for its preservation of art, art environments and supporting education initiatives, has announced plans to preserve Pasaquan, the colorful art environment created by Eddie Owens Martin, known as St. EOM, near Buena Vista, Georgia.

Upon completion, Pasaquan will be gifted to the Columbus State University Foundation for use by the university under the direction of Mike McFalls, a CSU associate professor of art. The university will breathe life into the site with events, programming and educational activities, as well as tours. CSU President Tim Mescon said he views this as “an effort that will have an indelible and positive impact on the region.”

Pasaquan

“At seven acres of land and six vibrant buildings, this is one of the largest art environment preservation projects we have ever undertaken,” said Natalie Black Kohler, president of the Kohler Foundation. “Preservation of this site will ensure that future generations of artists and the public will be able to experience the varied facets of the property.”

Student assistants from CSU will work closely with art conservators, providing those students with a unique hands-on opportunity in art preservation and site management. Preservation work at Pasaquan is expected to begin in mid-May, take nearly two years to complete and will include structural work as well as object and painting conservation. Professional conservators from Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles, along with local trades people, will work to bring the site back to its former glory.

Pasaquan Artist

This is not the first time Kohler Foundation has teamed with a college or university to preserve an art environment. Kohler Foundation partnered with Nicholls State University in early 2000 to preserve the Kenny Hill Sculpture Garden in Chauvin, La., and  Edgewood College, in Madison Wis., has been actively involved in program and preservation initiatives at the Painted Forest site in Valton Wis., since 2004. In both cases, the educational institutions have creatively utilized the sites to offer retreats, community programs, classes, and special events.

About Kohler Foundation Inc.
Nationally known for its work with art environments, Kohler Foundation has preserved seven art environments in Wisconsin, plus the Kenny Hill Sculpture Garden in Chauvin, La.; Hartman Rock Garden in Springfield, Ohio; and the monumental Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kan. Most recently, Kohler Foundation has been involved with the Bernard Langlais estate in Cushing, Maine, a collaboration with Colby College. Gifts of art by Bernard Langlais have been made to 50 institutions in Maine, plus a selection of iconic wood sculptures will remain in situ, to be gifted to the Georges River Land Trust, creating a unique collaboration between art preservation and land conservation. To learn more about Kohler Foundation, visit  www.kohlerfoundation.org/.

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