Obit of the Day: Mr. Imagination
In 1978, George Warmack was shot at point-blank range during a robbery. While surgeons worked to save his life, Warmack claimed he had an out-of-body (and time) experience, traveling to ancient civilizations. When he “returned” Warmack understood that he needed to dedicate his life to art that would “heal” others.
Two years later, Warmack renamed himself “Mr. Imagination” and began a four decade career in outsider art. Using found materials, most often sandstone and bottle caps, “Mr. I” would create sculptures that hearkened back to the ancient cultures of Egypt and Africa. He lived and worked for most of his life in Chicago before moving to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 2002. (He had hoped to find “more peace” but instead a 2008 house fire destroyed his art, materials, and killed his dog, Pharaoh.)
Mr. Imagination’s work is in the collection of the American Museum of Folk Art in New York City and the Smithsonian Institution. For those from Chicago, you can see his bottle cap-filled designs at the House of Blues, where he worked for 2 days straight to decorate the walls behind the bar before the restaurant and concert venue opened. (He has also completed installations for HOBs in New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Florida.)
Mr. Imagination died at the age of 64.
(Photo by Ron Gordon; courtesy Barbara Archer Gallery via burnaway.org)