Wednesday, February 23, 2011

From the ashes and post fire

Mr. Imagination is back. Just 37 months after a fire in Bethlehem, Pa., destroyed his home and much of his art, Mr. Imagination, aka Gregory Warmack, is waving his raised hand once again in the art world. Barbara Archer Gallery, a short walk from my house, is exhibiting the work of the resurgent Mr. I until April 9. He moved to a northwest Atlanta neighborhood in 2009 following the January 2008 Bethlehem fire. Mr. I's ascent to self-taught art prominence began in his native Chicago. Now in his 50s, he's settled into Atlanta where he said he hopes to open a museum showcasing new and older work. His modest home is stuffed with his own creations and pieces he has collected, including works by Howard Finster, Brian Dowdall, Artist Chuckie and African trade signs. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently published an article on Mr. Imagination's comeback. Work salvaged from the fire has taken on added significance for the artist. Burned pieces displayed at his home he said he plans to keep for the future museum. At the gallery, his sculptures are either "from the ashes" or "post fire." A 4-foot-tall burned staff, priced at $5,200, sold, as did a newer, unburned guitar man, priced at $2,500. The second to last photo shows part of a burned or from the ashes "ladder" sculpture ($20,000). On the night of the Feb. 17 opening, Mr. Imagination sat in a throne he built (pictured at top) and fans sat with him and snapped pictures.

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