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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2018

Travel Nathan C. Weinert Southeast Adventures: Pasaquan A couple of years ago, I saw a story on PBS about Pasaquan, the Georgia home and creation of visionary folk artist, Eddie Owens Martin. I was intrigued and searched for more information on the internet. Once I realized that it was relatively close to Birmingham, I knew I needed to go. Highway 280 (plus a few turns) will lead you to Pasaquan. An interstate-based route to Montgomery and then east would also work, but we opted for the more direct and scenic route. Any charm to be gleaned from that scenery wore off near Opelika, when I had to slam on the brakes due to a poorly-timed merger several yards in front of us. That jolt woke up both napping children, who decided they needed food immediately. By the time the backseat sobbing started, we had passed the better options of Lee County. At last we stopped at Smokems BBQ, a humble establishment attached to a gas station in Phoenix City whose BBQ smoker was making magic that day, before continuing on to Pasaquan. Upon arriving at the artist’s home, we were greeted by a tall wall featuring faces carved in concrete. After walking through a brightly decorated gate, we headed down a short Wizard of Ozlike path toward what was once a simple farmhouse. This formerly basic building has painted totems on both sides of the door and many, many mandalas. Martin’s folk art creations give it the appearance of a pre-Columbian gingerbread house. We stopped on the path to take the requisite family pictures, and then walked inside the house. We said hello to the caretaker, a man who lives on the premises and helped with the restoration project, and then put some cash in the plastic donation box. You are expected to take in all of the indoor and outdoor work on a self-guided basis, which is what we did for the next hour or so. Our daughter could have handled more, but the toddler’s interest in artwork is limited. As for that art, I lack the artistic knowledge and descriptive terms to provide the prose that Pasaquan deserves. The large multi-story pagoda structure with its accompanying ceremonial sandpit is incredible. There is some fantastic metal work. Everything is hyper-colorful. The artwork seems to be inspired by at least five different folk traditions, but at the same time seems completely original. Overall, there is a psychedelic vibe to Pasaquan. That said, the place is not merely the cover to The Zombie’s Odessey sic and Oracle come to life. It was well worth the drive. The artist, Eddie Owens Martin, born in 1908, was the son of Georgia sharecroppers. At age 14, he left Georgia 12 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2018
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