CSU’s Pasafest hopes to preserve, educate people about world-renowned art environment

Pasaquan sculptures after restoration
Pasaquan sculptures after restoration ali@ledger-enquirer.com

Columbus State University and the Pasaquan Preservation Society will team up Saturday to organize the first-ever Pasafest, a daylong festival hosted on the vibrant, 7-acre grounds of Pasaquan.

“Pasafest is a Pasaquoyan celebration of Southern arts and culture,” said Michael McFalls, director of Pasaquan. “Throughout the day, we will be offering folk, blues, rock and, of course, psychedelic musical acts as well as a curated art market featuring regional visual artists who are known for their folk and self-taught styles.”

Featured musicians include Crispin Wah, Heather Gillis Band, Rude Dude, the Creek Freaks, iNDEEDFACE, Jontavious Willis, James Husband, Lady of the Lake and Joseph Mosman. Performances will begin at noon and last until 9 p.m.

Once gates open at 10 a.m., attendees will be able to explore the Artist Market until 5 p.m. Featured artists will include Kip Ramey, Charles Laster, Sam Granger, Lee Laney, Fawne DeRosia, Suzy Sue Smith, Butch Anthony, Ralph Frank, Bond Anderson, Brent Wykle, Charlie Dingle, Meg Anderson, Katie Lebel and Jeffree Lerner.

Pasaquan would not be around if Eddie Owens Martin did not dedicate most of his time to its creation and his art. Martin, a self-taught Southern artist, drew inspiration from many colorful cultures to develop the internationally recognized visionary art environment known as Pasaquan. Martin’s artistic journey started at age 14 when he left his hometown of Buena Vista, Ga., to embark on a hitchhiking adventure to Atlanta and Washington, D.C., before settling in New York. In the Big Apple, he worked as a street hustler, bartender, gambler and drag queen. He even gave fortune-telling a try at age 37.

In 1957, after the death of his mother, Martin came home to Georgia and continued his fortune-telling flair for pay. Donning ravishing robes and feathered headdresses, Eddie moved into his mother’s old farmhouse and used his oracle occupation to help fund his vision of Pasaquan.

Martin also changed his name to St. EOM (pronounced Ohm) and became the first Pasaquoyan. He continued to work on the art environment for 30 years, creating six major structures, mandala murals and more than 900 feet of elaborately painted masonry walls. Pasaquan lavishly fuses African, pre-Columbian Mexico and Native American cultural and religious symbols and designs, along with motifs inspired by Edward Churchward’s book, “The Lost Continent of MU.”

After St. EOM’s death in 1986, the Pasaquan Preservation Society worked tirelessly to preserve the site. It wasn’t until 2014 that the philanthropic organization Kohler Foundation Inc. partnered with PPS and CSU to bring the visionary art site back to life.

Following the tradition of St. EOM’s life, Pasaquan will offer handpicked food vendors, fortune tellers, performers and more. The Pasaquan Preservation Society will also feature their famous Cosmic Pickles and will have the return of the Cosmic Cosmetologist and Technicolor Facepainters. Visitors are encouraged to dress as Pasaquoyans as prizes will be awarded to the best dressed.

“Pasafest is a step toward fulfilling our mission as a society by producing programming and fundraising events that will help preserve as well as educate people about this world-renowned visionary art environment,” McFalls said. “As the vision of Pasaquan states, ‘We aspire to give visitors a unique insight into the intuitive artistic process by engaging them through diverse programming, interdisciplinary workshops, lectures, seminars, retreats and performances.’ ”

Columbus State University’s priority is to preserve, maintain, provide access to and assist in the interpretation of Pasaquan. The Pasaquan Preservation Society along with Columbus State University strives to keep the traditions of Pasaquan alive by establishing curricula that center on Pasaquan, fostering partnerships through comprehensive community outreach and service learning opportunities, and developing programming that is culturally enriching and engenders respect for visionary art and the creative differences of others.

On the night of the festival, Omaha Brewing Co. will offer campsites at the Brewery for festival goers. If you are interested, choose “Admission + Camping” as your ticket option online to save your spot. Campers may set up camp starting at 10:00 a.m., and there will be a shuttle taking festival-goers to and from Omaha Brewing Co. for no extra cost.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.eventbrite.com. Tickets cost $20 until Nov. 9 at noon and will be $30 at the gate. Student tickets cost $15, and tickets for children ages 12 and under cost $10. All proceeds will go toward the continued preservation of the site.

For more information, visit www.pasaquan.columbusstate.edu.