1. Tom Patterson, St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan: The Life and Times and Art of Eddie Owens Martin (The Jargon Society, 1987), 100. Several people who knew Martin personally have noted that his recollections were not always consistent. Regardless, this essay leans heavily on Patterson’s book as it presents Martin’s stories in his own words.
2. Ibid., 113.
3. Leslie Umberger, Sublime Spaces & Visionary Worlds: Built Environments of Vernacular Artists (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007), 50.
4. Ibid., 126.
5. Ibid., 169.
6. Ibid., 169.
7. Ibid., 171.
8. Artist, curator, folklorist, and friend of St. EOM Fred Fussell told me in an interview on February 21, 2022, that St. EOM’s primary influence was James Churchward’s series of books about the “lost continent of Mu,” a mythical continent in the Pacific Ocean that was the birthplace of humankind. The books include illustrations of patterns, symbols, and language present in Peruvian, Native American, Egyptian, and Mayan cultures—and many more. After St. EOM’s death in 1986, Fussell was one of the primary advocates for Pasaquan and was integral in the preservation of the site (along with the Pasaquan Preservation Society) until he was able to enlist the assistance of the Kohler Foundation in 2014.
9. It’s important to note that St. EOM was not isolated from Buena Vista, and was, in fact, an active participant in town meetings and events. Many artists who create environments have been mischaracterized as reclusive; however, these makers often created their environments specifically as sites of gathering, a place where the community could come to them.
10. Scott Galloway and Brent Pierson, directors. A Man Named Pearl. Tentmakers Entertainment, 2006. 1 hr., 18 min.
11. “Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden,” The Garden Conservancy, https://www.gardenconservancy.org/preservation/pearl-fryar.
12. Galloway and Pierson, A Man Named Pearl.
13. William Arnett, “Pearl Fryar: Sculpture Gardener,” Souls Grown Deep, https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/artist/pearl-fryar.
15. Galloway and Pierson, A Man Named Pearl.
16. The Harris family is of African and Indigenous ancestry, and they identify as Black Indians.
17. The information presented here about The Saint Paul Spiritual Holy Temple was collected through several interviews by the author with Mook Harris, who continues to live at the Temple with his wife, and Judith McWillie, a longtime friend of the Harris family. McWillie is an artist and professor emerita of drawing and painting at the University of Georgia, and she is currently editing a book about the Temple.
18. The partnership to preserve Pearl Fryar’s Topiary Garden also includes the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the WeGOJA Foundation (formerly the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission), and the Garden Conservancy. Though the long-term future of the Garden is uncertain, the consortium is currently working to create a plan to secure the site in perpetuity. Update: Pearl Fryar’s Topiary Garden is now managed with the support of a new board of directors: Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, Inc. The board has hired an expert topiary trimmer who works under Mr. Fryar’s direction. For more information, visit www.pearlfryargarden.org