Pasaquan (Buena Vista, GA)

Two-Story Building Pasaquan Columbus, GA

A Self-Taught Artist’s Colorful Compound in Rural Georgia

Eddie Owens Martin was many things: a sharecropper’s son, a teenage runaway, a street hustler, bartender, fortuneteller, and drag queen. 

He also was a self-taught artist who founded his own religion and built a mind-blowing compound featuring six gorgeous structures and 900 feet of elaborately painted walls. 

Called Pasaquan, it sits WAY off the beaten path about 35 miles outside Columbus, Georgia, on what was once the Martin family farm. 

Eyes on Wall Pasaquan Columbus, GA

Martin was born in 1908 and ran away from his abusive father when he was 14, eventually making his way to New York City. During an illness in the 1930s, he said, he received a vision in which he was told to found Pasaquoyanism and rename himself St. EOM (pronounced Ohm). [1]This man spent YEARS hustling rent on the mean streets of New York and he did it the RIGHT WAY, by founding a religion.

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Totem Exterior Pasaquan Columbus, GA

After his mother died in 1957, Martin returned to Georgia and began building his folk art masterpiece.  

Pagoda Exterior Pasaquan Columbus, GA

Following Martin’s suicide in 1986, Pasaquan fell into disrepair, but in 2014 the Kohler Foundation (the same organization that maintains Wisconsin Concrete Park) stepped in to save it. And we’re so glad it did! [2]The place is vibrant. With the relentless South Georgia sun beating on it constantly, I can’t imagine the amount of work it must take just to keep the paint from looking faded. It was quite a sight.

Kitchen Wall Pasaquan Columbus, GA

Pasaquan “lavishly fuses African, pre-Columbian Mexico and Native American cultural and religious symbols and designs” and incorporates “spiritual concepts from ancient cultures and futuristic ideas of levitation transportation,” according to the Pasaquan website. We won’t pretend to understand it, but it’s fun to look at. [3]It’s SOOOO DERIVITAVE, said the jerk inside me. I can’t back that statement up. At all.

Fred Surveys Pasaquan Columbus, GA

St. EOM wore fancy robes and a huge headdress and told fortunes to help fund his creation. (He may also have sold weed. [4]Your parents called it pot. ) In this article—which, coincidentally, was written by my old pal Charlie Patton—Martin is described as “a guru with no followers.” [5]A weed dealer always has followers.

Outdoor Wall Pasaquan Columbus, GA

In the same article, someone who grew up in the nearby small town of Buena Vista said of him, “He was an eccentric, but he was our eccentric.”

Interior Room Pasaquan Columbus, GA

“Pasaquoyanism,” St. EOM once said, “has to do with the Truth, and with Nature, and the Earth, and man’s lost rituals.” [6]The video on the grounds described the circle structures as “the universe.” It was quite intense, and I think I made a donation to the center against my will. I think St. EOM was yelling at me in the video. I had to get out of there.

Garage Exterior Pasaquan Columbus, GA

Columbus State University now owns and operates Pasaquan, which is currently open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There’s a suggested donation of $10. Plan on spending 60-90 minutes there. As the pandemic recedes, look for hours to expand and the site to once again host retreats, workshops, and performances.

Fred Soyia Pasequan Columbus, GA

Want to spend a weekend in the area? We’ve got ideas for what to do in nearby Columbus. [7]Soyia knows how to fill out an itinerary.

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