EOM on the Range map
From Pasaquan

There are several notable artists that come from or have resided in Georgia. I don’t write about them all, but when one artist describes himself as the “Bodacious Mystic Badass of Buena Vista,” it makes this monkey sit up, take notice, and put a visit to his home on my list of things to do. Now, it has taken me some time to manage the trip, with its 2.5 hours of traveling and pretty restrictive operating hours. But I got there and wanted to tell you about it. If you don’t know what I am talking about, this is about Pasaquan, the residence and artwork of the lovably mad Eddie Owens Martin, near Buena Vista, Georgia.

For a couple of years now, the site has been open to the public on the first Saturday of each month during the summer. They do charge a $5 donation/admission, but it goes to the preservation of the home and is well worth it. As I have said, the hours are short, being only open from 10am to 4pm on that one day a month.

What you get to see is patchwork of geometric patterns married to mystic, Indian, and religious symbols. Driving up the deserted and aptly named Eddie Martin Road, this outlandishly decorated home is woefully out of place in the middle Georgia countryside. But I say this in a good way, a place where you might least expect something this out of the ordinary, it is magnificent to find the extraordinary. The house is decorated on every wall and inside every room with different paints and designs, except his bedroom. He paid special attention to painting faces and patterns.
From Pasaquan

Eddie Owens Martin was born in this home in 1908. Around the age of 14, he left home after an incident where his father killed his dog. He wandered about a bit, starting as a fruit picker in the South, but eventually managed his way up to New York City, a place where those who perceive themselves as different often feel quite at home. He managed to eke out an existence there as a waiter, bartender, and male prostitute. He often made money in gambling or selling marijuana. Over time, he found his best calling as a fortune teller working the streets of the city. In the 1930’s, apparently due to a fever, he had a vision of people from another time and space who called themselves Pasaquoyans. They told him to show the world what life could be like in the future and to go back to Georgia to do something. And to change his name to St. EOM, pronounced like Ohm or the meditative chant.

There he started building this place on the site of his old homestead. He would finance the thing by continuing to tell fortunes. He would wear outlandish costumes: part Indian, part Eastern Mystic, part out of this world. He built a circular sandpit where he would conduct shows and ritual for those who made the journey. He did this for 30 years, until the pains of disease and old age were too much to bear. Using a gun, he killed himself there in 1986; he was 77 years old at the time.

Eddie often complained that he was underappreciated as an artist. And from the works, you find in the welcoming area, I think he had a point. Compared to most of the self-taught artists I have seen, his paintings were actually pretty good. Descriptive and well crafted, and not really childlike in appearance. Now, the structure itself is simplistic and crazy, but the paintings were quite better than that. He also did a fair amount of sculpture, hence the maze of walls and totems throughout the property. Many of these are fallen into disrepair, but it must have been a sight when the colors were bright and brilliant. I should also note that it would be difficult to spend an entire day there as the grounds are not vast. Normally on the last day of business for the year in November they have an Artists Day, where Southern Artists set up displays and there’s food and music. You can keep up with them and their events on their blog here. In one of the rooms, they were showing films of the artist while he was still alive.

So, If you are in the area of Buena Vista (about an hour East of Columbus and two hours South of Atlanta) on the first Saturday of the month during the day, you should definitely put this on the list of things to do. If you are into folk art, it is certainly worth the trip by itself. The place reminds me of what midnight movies used to be in the 70’s before corporations figured out a show that late could be really profitable. It’s wildly fascinating.

Here are some interesting video links:
From the Documentary
From PBS
A longer video

And the Ballad of Eddie Owens Martin:
Ballad of Eddie Owens Martin

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