Mr. Imagination

Mr. Imagination, Gregory Warmack Obit Photo. Courtesy, the Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art

Gregory Warmack, a.k.a, “Mr. Imagination” died from an infection in an Atlanta Hospital on May 30,2012. Mr. Imagination was a beloved artist who did multiple artist residencies at Lehigh University, especially those connected to Religion Studies Professor Norman Girardot’s “Raw Vision” course:

ART 144. (REL 144) Raw Vision: Creativity and Ecstasy in the Work of Shamans, Mystics, and Artist Outsiders (4) 
Comparative exploration of the nature and meaning of religious and artistic experience as reflected in shamanism (both prehistoric and tribal), mystic traditions (especially Taoism and Christianity), and contemporary self-taught artistic visionaries (e.g. Jean Dubuffet, Howard Finster, Mr. Imagination, Lonnie Holley, Norbert Kox). Various disciplinary perspectives will be employed including comparative religions, anthropology, art history, and psychology. Girardot (HU)

Mr. Imagination touched so many Lehigh students, staff and faculty while he lived in South Bethlehem (between 2001-2008). As a way to help others remember and learn about Mr. Imagination’s impact at Lehigh University here’s a few links to some University Relations stories:

“A Stubborn Appreciation for Art’
Written by Linda Harbrecht in 2003 for the unveiling of “Alfred” – one of the fiberglass Mules crated for the 2003 Miles of Mules project.
To a visitor happening upon the creature covered in gold-dusted bottlecaps, it might appear to be nothing more than an appealing—albeit unorthodox—piece of outsider art that is intended to provoke discussion. Click here for the rest of this story.
‘All that is new and strange at Lehigh’
Again, written by Linda Harbrecht to promote a ceremony that celebrated the rebirth and renewal of the university’s world-famous outsider art enclave.
They bear enticing names such as the “Throne of Regeneration,” the “Concrete Tree of Sacred Debris,” or the “Glass-Shard Shrine of Elvis the Divine…. In the course, Girardot and students celebrated the lives and works of exceptionally creative individuals—shamans, mystics, and artists—whom he identifies as “technicians of spirit.”“They’re the creative entrepreneurs of human culture who expressively create and produce something new in the world as a revitalization of forgotten aspects of our world,” [Girardot] says. “They are the creative masters of visionary experience who journeyed to other worlds for their own sake, and for the sake of the larger community and environment. They’ve often been considered insane, or at least bizarrely eccentric, but they can function as productive, therapeutic and reforming agents for larger society.”Throughout the study of the works of these non-traditional artists, students were aided by internationally famous outsider artist Mr. Imagination, as well as two other local artists: Sue Small … and Loly [Reynolds], a mosaic artist from Bethlehem’s South Side.” Click here for the full article on the course; here is the article that reported on the ceremony.

Directions to the Millenial Arch and the Enclave of Outsider Art:
On the Asa Packer Campus, follow Upper Sayre Drive halfway up South Mountain. Park off the side of the road by the entrance to the dirt road, which is marked by a large concrete megalith. This road is visible next to the Chinese Bridge. Sensible footwear is suggested.
Mr. Imagination objects in the Lehigh University Art Gallery permanent collection:
1. The above mentioned full sized, fiberglass mule, titled “Alfred, the Mountain Mule” – created in 2003. It’s color is buckskin and is covered with various colored bottlecaps. There is also a design in bottlecaps that inlcude pridle and harness. The text for the lable:
This sculpture is one of two [the other is in front of the Banana Factory, near the 9-11 Memorial bus top on 3rd street] created by Mr. Imagination for the public art project, Miles of Mules, organized by the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor and State Heritage Park. The mule was chosen as a symbol of this region’s 19th century industrial heritage. More than 150 life-sized, fiberglass mule sculptures were created by renowned and emerging local artist, as well as schools and nonprofit organizations. Outsider artist and [former] Bethlehem PA resident Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack) was commissioned to create this mule for Lehigh University.
(special note – ask us privately about the provenance of “alfred” sometime…)
2. Sculptural Mask made of sandstone. Description: A head with facial features, including beard, and headdress carved into the sand. Created in 2004.

Storify – Mr. Imagination
If you care to dig a little deeper, there is an online curation tool called “Storify” Please click this link to see a brief compilation of websites, blogs, news articles, videos, and personal comments from Facebook and Twitter that reflect on the work and impact of Mr. Imagination – Gregory Warmack.

Funeral Service in Atlanta
The funeral service for Mr. Imagination will be Monday June 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Watkins Funeral Home
Historic West End Chapel
1003 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30310

There is a website for people to share their condolences here.

If you wish to contribute to help the family cover funeral expenses, we should be able to share that with you shortly. Please check back with us if interested.