Remembering Mr Imagination

Mr. Imagination with his work at Folk Fest in Atlanta, 2009

March 30, 1948 – May 30, 2012

Mr. Imagination embodied art and the creative spirit. The third of nine children, he was born on the South Side of Chicago in March 1948 as Gregory Warmack. While living there, he was seriously wounded in a shooting, and during his near-death state felt he was whisked across time and space, where cultures and civilizations revealed themselves to him in a way that he now translates into art.

I would love to think that he is now happy in those fantastic worlds that were revealed to him all of those years ago. Home with the kings, and Pharoah (his beloved dog) and all things of great beauty.

Both prodigious and prolific, the incredible world of Mr. Imagination is “a work of art in progress.” Mr. Imagination’s talent was such that when handed an object, he saw in it things that the rest of us couldn’t see. This extraordinary gift allowed Mr. Imagination to transform common material into resplendent objects of art with new life, vitality and meaning.

In 2002, he moved to Bethlehem, PA to create art near his friends at Lehigh University. Seven years later, he experienced a devastating house fire destroying his home, killing his beloved dog Pharaoh and charring much of the work he had stored there. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he salvaged what he could to create new work.

Pharoah
(courtesy of Randy Mason and Mike Murphy, Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations)
(courtesy of Randy Mason and Mike Murphy, Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations)

In August 2009, he relocated to Atlanta, GA. With the help of many friends, Mr. Imagination bought a home to create an Angel Garden for all the children and artists of the world to come together and bring artistic life to everything that has been thrown away and discarded.

Also in 2009, Intuit presented Mr. Imagination with its Visionary Award in celebration of his incredible persistence, vision and contributions to self-taught and outsider art.

His work attained national and international recognition. He also was committed to inspiring communities with a series of outdoor embedded concrete sculptures (or “grottos,” as he calls them).

Detail from the Memory Wall in Winston-Salem, NC

The ever-active Mr. Imagination was commissioned by the city to build a memory wall outside the offices of the Winston-Salem Transit System. Residents were invited to bring mementos and artifacts from their own lives that Mr. I could incorporate into a concrete wall and bench located near one of the busiest bus stops in town.

(portions of this was excerpted, rearranged and mangled from Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art)

More about Mr. I:

Mar 04, 2011
It was three years ago last month that Gregory “Mr. Imagination” Warmack faced the latest in a long line of epic tragedies, when his home and studio in Bethlehem, Penn., caught fire while he was away. By the time he got back, 
Mar 30, 2011
Lonnie Holley, Gregory Warmack (a.k.a. Mr. Imagination), Charlie Lucas (a.k.a. Tin Man) and Kevin Sampson represent the virtuosity of African American Contemporary Outsider artists. Steven Ogburn (a.k.a. Blade), Chris Ellis 
Jun 30, 2009
AVAM goes to Bergdorf Goodman!!! Mr. I, fresh from the art debacle in Salina, in front of the window display featuring his art. (photo from Modelizing, the art of Window Shopping) 
Jun 17, 2009
After the Salina City Commission rejected Mr. Imagination’s installation — grotto sculptures on downtown planters — local artist Katy England said she and Mr. Imagination, also known as Greg Warmack, are forging new plans.
Jan 29, 2008
On Sunday, January 20, 2008, Gregory “Mr. Imagination” Warmack’s home, gallery, collections and art studio in Bethlehem, PA was gutted by fire. Everything was lost including the centerpiece of the house, his bottlecap 
Jan 31, 2008
Daryl Nerl, a writer for the Bethlehem Daily Star, just posted a nice write up about the flickr site that I set up to collect photos for a book for Mr. I. Also rumored to be in the works is a fundraiser at Intuit in Chicago at the end of 
Feb 05, 2008
Please join Intuit February 28th from 5-8:00pm as we host a fundraising benefit for Mr. Imagination. This event will include a silent auction, video and slideshows of Mr. Imagination’s work. Food and wine has been generously