Education

Pasaquan Preservation Society wins prestigious state award

COURTESY OF COLUMBUS STATE UNIVERSITY 
 Members of the Pasaquan Preservation Society and a group from Columbus State University pose for a photo on the steps of the Georgia Capitol after Gov. Nathan Deal presented one of the 2015 Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities to the society Tuesday in Atlanta.
COURTESY OF COLUMBUS STATE UNIVERSITY Members of the Pasaquan Preservation Society and a group from Columbus State University pose for a photo on the steps of the Georgia Capitol after Gov. Nathan Deal presented one of the 2015 Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities to the society Tuesday in Atlanta.

The Pasaquan Preservation Society, the group that has maintained and is now restoring the internationally renowned visionary art site in Marion County, has received a prestigious state award.

The Buena Vista-based society is among 13 recipients of the 2015 Governor's Awards for the Arts and Humanities, selected by the Georgia Council for the Arts and Georgia Humanities. The awards recognize outstanding individuals and organizations for significant contributions to the state's civic and cultural vitality.

The other recipients this year are: Elizabeth "Libby" Bailey of Macon,

Susan Booth of Atlanta, Brenda Bynum of Atlanta, Jerry and Kathy Chappelle of Watkinsville, James Cobb of Athens, Dale Dyer of Blue Ridge, Joyce Perdue-Smith of Rome, Mausiki Scales of Atlanta, Robert Webb of Dalton, Foxfire of Mountain City, Slow Exposures of Zebulon and Telfair Museums of Savannah.

The Pasaquan Preservation Society, a not-for-profit private organization, has been caring for the site since the 1986 death of its founder, Eddie Owens Martin, also known as St. EOM. Last year, the society deeded Pasaquan to the Wisconsin-based Kohler Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving art environments. Kohler announced in June 2014 its plan to restore Pasaquan's seven acres and six buildings to the colorful glory Martin created six decades ago.

Since then, Columbus State University professors and students have been working with the society and Kohler's preservations to complete the project by late spring. In December, Kohler is scheduled to gift Pasaquan to the CSU Foundation for the university to host events, programming, educational activities and tours amid the brightly painted masonry fences, totems, walkways, temples and a pagoda.

"The Governor's Award recognizes the hard work and perseverance of the Pasaquan Preservation Society for the last three decades," Pasaquan director Mike McFalls, an associate professor of art at CSU, said in a news release.

Richard Baxter, dean of CSU's College of the Arts, added in the release, "This award confirms our confidence that, through its operation of Pasaquan, the stature of the art department will rise to a national and potentially international level."

Tom Patterson, the author who has chronicled Martin's work, has called Pasaquan "one of the most remarkable folk art environments in America -- a sort of mock pre-Columbian psychedelic wonderland."

Pasaquan, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, had been open for public tours, but it closed last year as the society started its restoration effort. The plan is to reopen the site, about six miles from the Buena Vista town square, after the project is completed.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.

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