Pasaquan

Near Buena Vista, in Marion County, Georgia, exists Pasaquan, a compound built by visionary artist Eddie Owens Martin (1908-1986). It’s somewhat like Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in Pennville, Ga., although not exactly Christian – in the late 1930s, during an extended illness, Martin experienced a delirious vision of a trio of extremely tall personages who grew their hair upward. They identified themselves as special envoys from Pasaquan, a place where the past, the present, the future, and everything else all come together. They announced that they had chosen Martin as their prophet and dubbed him “St. EOM” (pronounced “ohm”). In subsequent visions they gave him extensive instructions about the proper conduct of his daily existence, and revealed to him how he could communicate with the energies of the universe. St. EOM accordingly began to meld his life toward a basic philosophy of truth, nature, and earth. While studying ancient cultures in the museums and libraries of New York, Martin became fixated on hair and its symbolic role in past cultures. He began to grow out his own hair and beard, which became a distinctive look for him.

He was also shown how he could render the world of Pasaquan artistically, and in 1957 he began to do exactly that – he returned to Georgia and began to transform his late mother’s small frame house and four-acre plot of land into the extended complex seen today. By the time of St. EOM’s death in 1986, it had grown to include six major structures, all connected by brightly painted masonry walls, colorful concrete sculptures, and other landscape elements and paintings.

St. EOM (or the tall personages) did not designate a successor prophet, and in his will he bequeathed Pasaquan to the Marion County Historic Society. Members formed the Pasaquan Preservation Society in 1991, but keeping it up was too great a task. In 2013, therefore, the site was purchased by the Kohler Foundation of Wisconsin, which sponsored an extensive renovation under the aegis of Columbus State University. Pasaquan was reopened to the public in 2016, and it is certainly a fascinating place to visit. Some photographs (which, as ever, can’t really do justice to the place):

It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever nearby. A good book on Pasaquan is Jonathan Williams, et al., St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan: The Life and Times and Art of Eddie Owens Martin (UGA Press, 2018). The information above is derived from the onsite museum. 

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