Gregory Warmack, better known to a generation of folk art lovers as Mr. Imagination, one of the few outsider artists whose work was collected by the Smithsonian and reproduced in many standard art history texts, died on May 30 in Atlanta of complications from a blood infection. Obsessive and accessible, Warmack’s signature bottle-cap encrusted, spiritually motivated objects came to symbolize the burgeoning genre of outsider art as it began to be seriously collected, codified and appreciated in the 1980’s and 90’s, making him a star, and leading to commissions for Coca-Cola, Reagan National Airport and Disney World.
Born in Chicago, Warmack experienced and artistic awakening after recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound in 1970. The self-taught artist moved his studio to Bethlehem, PA in 2001, and to Atlanta in 2009 after a disastrous studio fire. In honor of Mr. Imagination’s life and work, Koelsch gallery, his Houston art dealer, is presenting a memorial exhibition through July 14.