St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan

The Life and Times and Art of Eddie Owens Martin

As told by Tom Patterson

Photographs by Jonathan Williams, Guy Mendes and Roger Manley

Foreword by Dorothy Joiner

Title Details

Pages: 280

Illustrations: 95 color and b&w photos

Trim size: 10.000in x 8.000in



Pub Date: 04/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5209-1

List Price: $36.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Friends Fund

St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan

The Life and Times and Art of Eddie Owens Martin

As told by Tom Patterson

Photographs by Jonathan Williams, Guy Mendes and Roger Manley

Foreword by Dorothy Joiner

An illustrated history of an important visionary art environment

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Self-taught Georgia artist Eddie Owens Martin (1908–86), known as St. EOM, created a visionary art site called Pasaquan in the mid-1950s in Marion County, Georgia. Covering seven acres, this evocative and fanciful site has captured the imaginations of thousands of visitors. Pasaquan includes six buildings connected by concrete walls, all of which are adorned with the artist’s vibrant, psychedelic folk art of bold, transfixing patterns, spiritual and tribal imagery, and exuberant depictions of nature.

According to St. EOM, his art arose from a vision he experienced in his mid-twenties, while suffering from a high fever. The first of many visionary experiences, it featured a godlike being who offered to be Martin’s spiritual guide. Subsequent visions inspired him to begin making art and, eventually, to create a spiritual compound dedicated to a peaceful future for humankind. St. EOM enlarged his house to twice its original size by adding a long rear section covered inside and out with his rainbow-hued murals, mandalas, and relief sculptures. On the grounds he built a series of structures including a circular dance platform, some small temples, several totems, and a two-story pagoda, all in his wildly ornamental style. He also created more than two thousand freestanding pieces, including paintings, sculptures, and drawings.

In the thirty years since St. EOM’s death, the Pasaquan Preservation Society worked to preserve the compound, which had fallen into neglect. In 2014 the Kohler Foundation and Columbus State University partnered with the society to restore the visionary art site for future generations. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan documents the iconography of a true iconoclast with a vitality entirely faithful to the eccentric energies of its subject.

—Katherine Dieckmann, Village Voice Literary Supplement

[St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan] finally and with a sure hand subverts and devastates the public conception of a the self-taught artist as naive, primitive, sweet, and isolated from the moral seriousness of the 'real' world.

—Randall Seth Morris, Paper

Is Mr. Patterson perhaps incautious in accepting the word of a man who was justly proud if his talents as a deceiver? Never mind. The skeptic has not been born who could indefinitely withstand the alternately seductive and challenging, eloquent and profane, oddly black-inflected voice that speaks from the pages of St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan.

—Peter Schjeldahl, New York Times Book Review

The story of worldly adventures and spiritual journeys, the book is as shocking, touching, and full of wisdom as the storyteller himself. . . . Through St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan we are able to enter the bizarre world of Pasaquan and its creator. In the process we might even come to realize that its not that strange after all.

—Mary Helen Frederick, Folk Art Messenger

Pasaquan might be one of Georgia’s largest works of art, but it’s also one of its least-known and least-seen. . . . Pasaquan, full of colors, symbols and faces, is just about impossible to describe. It’s too big, too multifaceted—its story too intertwined with the complex life of its creator . . . as chronicled by Tom Patterson, whose book St. Eom in the Land of Pasaquan will be reissued next year by the University of Georgia Press.

—Lee Shearer, Athens Banner-Herald


25 Books All Georgians Should Read, Georgia Center for the Book

About the Author/Editor

Tom Patterson is the author of Howard Finster: Stranger from Another World and Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. His writing has appeared in afterimage, American Craft, Aperture, ARTnews, Art Papers, BOMB, Folk Art, New Art Examiner, Public Art Review, and Raw Vision.