b. 1948 - d. 2012
It was a sad day in folk art circles to learn of Mr. Imagination's passing on May 30, 2012 in Atlanta, Ga. We were lucky to have known him.
Gregory Warmack was born the third of nine children in 1948 in the poverty-stricken South Side of Chicago. The love and support of his mother, Margaret, pulled him through the difficult times and encouraged him to be artistic and unique. "I slept under the kitchen table because my bedroom was covered with art", Mr. I explains. As he grew older, rocks, beads, trinkets & found objects would work their way into his masks and jewelry. While selling his jewelry on the street one night, he was shot at point blank range and left to die.
During his slow recuperation in the hospital, Warmack experienced an "out of body" experience that seemed to sail him rapidly over the continent of Africa. This powerful imagery led to his recovery and a new dedication to his art.
In the early 1980s, he started using the name "Mr. Imagination", a name that came to define him personally and artistically. Creating magical art out of bottle caps, buttons and a concoction of plaster, Mr. Imagination soon became one of the most famous self-taught artists in the world. His love of community and children is illustrated best in his outdoor installations - grottos, domes, benches, arches, walls. Like a pied piper, Mr. I weaved a trail from his art to the hearts and minds of the viewers.
Jeanine Taylor Folk Art is forever grateful to Mr. I for creating his community 500 foot long Memory Wall on the facade of our building. Play the video below to view a short documentary chronicling the creation of the Memory Wall.