Nestled in the woods of rural Georgia is an artistic jewel. This jewel, though locally known, remained hidden from a broader audience and neglected for quite some time. Within the past few years, it has been discovered and recognized for the national treasure that it is. It is known as Pasaquan or, if you have resided in Buena Vista, Georgia for some time, the Eddie Martin house.
The town (pronounced “Byoo-nuh Vihs-tuh” by the locals) with its traditional streets and courthouse square, seems an unlikely place to embrace the eccentric, yet they do. They treasure this jewel of their community and all that it has to offer, as well as the legacy of the man who created it.
Eddie Martin, later to become known as St. EOM, is an ideal example of a non-conformist. He was openly gay at a time when being so was not readily-accepted and made a living telling fortunes. In his youth, he left his rural home to experience life in New York City, and lived there for many years before permanently returning to his childhood home after the death of his mother. Inspired by a spiritual vision, he developed his own personal religion, Pasaquoyanism, and set about transforming his homestead into an artistic masterpiece with which to celebrate it.
The style of the artistry seems to draw inspiration from many sources. The brilliant colors suggest the psychedelic, while faces with helmets have an almost medieval look to them. Some figures seem to draw inspiration from Egyptian hieroglyphics and others seem to allude to science fiction. There are mandalas and crosses that infer something spiritual, and overt sexual imagery that infers the animal. Cylindrical columns resembling totem poles and geometric patterns express a more tribal feeling. All of these elements meld into a work of art that is quite unique. Though the details hint of something that draws inspiration from elsewhere, the whole bespeaks of something truly original.
In April the site will host the second annual Pasafest, a celebration featuring local artists and musical entertainment. The event seeks to increase awareness of the important artistic and cultural site and also features activities such as tarot card readings, which are reminiscent of the life of St. EOM.
In 2014, the Kohler Foundation stepped in to finance and oversee the restoration of this artistic site. After reopening in 2016, the foundation transferred ownership to Columbus State University in order to ensure its perpetual care and preservation.
Thanks to Michael McFalls, Director of Pasaquan, Columbus State University, and Charles Fowler, Caretaker of Pasaquan, for their assistance with this article.
Fleischhauer, Carl. Missing Pieces Exhibit: Eddie Martin, Buena Vista, Georgia. Buena Vista, Georgia. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/afc1982010_cf_128/>.
St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan: the life and times and art of Eddie Owens Martin, by Tom Patterson.