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Foundation explores reviving Pasaquan folk art environment

BY SALLY HANSELL / FOR THE AJC

When outsider artist Eddie Owens Martin, known as St. EOM, died in 1986, he left behind a visionary art complex of painted concrete walls, totems and pagoda-like structures near Buena Vista.

Named Pasaquan, the folk art site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. The Pasaquan Preservation Society has maintained the 7-acre site for more than two decades, but preventing deterioration has been more than the small, volunteer group could handle.

That’s where the Kohler Foundation may come in. The preservation of art environments, folk architecture and collections of self-taught artists is a major thrust of the Wisconsin foundation.

Kohler executive director Terri Yoho and a team of contractors and conservators assessed Pasaquan’s repair needs on March 25. Floors are collapsing in some of the buildings, and paint is fading and flaking off murals of giant flowers, wave patterns and geometric motifs.

The next day the team traveled to nearby Columbus, to a warehouse containing St. EOM’s eccentric hand-made clothes, works on paper and barrels of beaded hangings.

The foundation will decide in April whether to acquire the site. If it proceeds, renovation would be completed by late 2015, and pasaquan would be given to an undisclosed nonprofit that would maintain it, Yoho said.

“Everybody’s very pleased” at the prospect, said Fred Fussell, a Pasaquan Preservation Society founding board member. “We’ve all been wishing for something for years and years.”

Pasaquan is currently closed to the public. Details: www.pasaquan.blogspot.com.

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