The House of Blues in Las Vegas has a magnificent array of art by the late Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack) that Leslie and I got to see. I met Mr. I at Kentuck (next Kentuck this weekend!), and he was a close friend of my friend Larry Harris, and even lived with Larry for a while in Houston.
Gregory Warmack was born into a family of nine children in a poor Chicago neighborhood in the late 1940s. At 30, he was robbed at gunpoint, shot and left for dead. Hospitalized and in a coma, Warmack had what is described as a near-death experience. He saw a vision that altered his perception of himself and his purpose in life. He began to see himself as a successor to a long line of kings and artisans stretching back for centuries to ancient Egypt. He came to understand this vision as an inheritance of power and purpose directing him to become an artist. His mission in life became making art that would have a positive impact on the world.
After a year of recovery, Warmack soon reinvented himself as “Mr. Imagination.” He lived and worked in Chicago for the next 22 years. The Hammer Gallery in Chicago gave the artist his first formal exhibition and represented him for many years.