Pilgrimage to Pasaquan

Pasaquan Plus 005

The first weekend in November, I joined some friends to journey approximately two hours southwest of Atlanta down to Buena Vista, Georgia. Our destination was Pasaquan, the homestead of local artist/eccentric Eddie Owen Martin (1908-1986)

Martin, who after a vision in the 1950s while he was living in New York City, annointed himself “St. EOM.” After returning to Georgia, he began transforming the seven-acre, 1885 country homestead he inherited from his mother into what looks like an abandoned temple complex from Mars.

Martin willed his home to the local historical society, which eventually created the separate foundation that operates the site today.

I’d heard about Pasaquan years ago, as it’s long been a preferred pilgrimage site for several gay friends and acquaintances. Somehow I never got down there myself until this month, when I learned that one of these friends, Cleo Creech, was orchestrating on behalf of the Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, a multi-poet poetry reading as part of an arts festival at Pasaquan.Pasaquan Plus 008

The drive down on a brilliant fall morning was delightful, as was the lunch stop in a Mennonite cafeteria about a half-hour’s drive from the festival. Before and after the poetry readings, we enjoyed meandering around the grounds, peering into the colorful, surreal environment created by this native eccentric.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2008, Pasaquan needs a lot of restoration work, but it’s worth a visit – although it’s open to the public only from April through November.

Fellow pilgrim Roger Bailey at one of Pasaquan's countless painted concrete walls.

Fellow pilgrim Roger Bailey at one of Pasaquan’s countless painted concrete walls.

Fellow pilgrim Franklin Abbott in front of one of Martin's eye-popping mandalas.

Fellow pilgrim Franklin Abbott in front of one of Martin’s eye-popping mandalas.

Fellow pilgrim Randall Cumbaa at one of the less racy pylons stationed along Pasaquan's many concrete walls.

Fellow pilgrim Randall Cumbaa at one of the less racy pylons stationed along Pasaquan’s many concrete walls.

If you live in Atlanta, you can get a preview of what awaits you at Pasaquan simply by driving across the Courtland Street bridge over I-75/I-85 (at Piedmont Road, downtown). There you’ll see, as part of an installation dedicated to Georgia folk artists’ work, a grouping of sculptures called “Homage to Pasaquan.” (Photos are available at the Atlanta Public Arts Legacy Fund’s website; just scroll down until you see them.)

For further information about Pasaquan itself – and more great photos – see:

Here’s Wayne Wood’s March 2013 ten-minute video tour:

 

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