I recently read a fascinating story about an artist that once lived not far from me in the sandhills of Nebraska. Emery Blagdon was born in 1907, the oldest of six children, and a farmer’s son. He ended his education at a country school to work on the farm, but at age 18, he left home to drift around the country for ten years, riding the rails for adventure.
Once he returned home, however, he stayed home, surrounded by family. He never married, never had children. He rarely bathed and wore his hair long, unusual for a man at the time, and donned baggy clothes that often needed laundering. He chopped wood every day for heat, drew his water from a well, and grew all his own food. Always a loner, his niece remembers him as being very kind, very gentle and quiet. When his uncle died, leaving him the family’s 160-acre farm, Emery didn’t work the land but instead leased it, which provided him a modest income and allowed him to do what he loved best.
On the farm was a 800-square-foot shed that Emery devoted the next thirty years to making what he called “my pretties.” He created metal sculptures using only what others called junk and a pair of pliers. Yet each creation, never measured, was symmetrical. After the deaths of his parents, brother and sister from cancer, he hoped to heal people with the energy from his art.
Some called him crazy. While the farm deteriorated from neglect, as did his personal appearance, neighbors couldn’t help but have reservations about him. Yet inside the shed, which was practically falling apart around him, beams of light touched on bits of foil, wire, colorful beads, and ribbon. Strings of blinking Christmas bulbs wound around the room. Visitors report being light-headed, feeling overwhelmed, even out-of-breath.
Emery possessed books on science and physics yet depended on the elements for his energy fields, using ionic salts purchased from a pharmacy in North Platte, NE. He befriended the pharmacist, and they became lifelong friends.
Unfortunately, Emery succumbed to the cancer that took family members before him, and just as it seemed the healing machines he’d created to protect himself and others from illness would be dispersed and lost through an estate auction, his pharmacist friend bought the entire lot, including the shed, to preserve Emery’s works.
Over the course of several decades, Emery’s 600 ornate wire sculptures and 80 geometric paintings traveled the country and were eventually displayed in a New York gallery. Pieces sold from $2,500 to $25,000. The remaining works, including the shed, was acquired by a foundation and donated to an art center in Wisconsin where they all remain today.
As far as the healing machines? Did they really heal? Well, they were indeed found to emit measurable electrical energy, but perhaps it was only the sheer rush of unexpected beauty that ripples through one’s body, giving him or her a dazzling hum of appreciation for Emery Blagdon’s passion.
Do learn more about Emery, you can watch a fascinating documentary about him: http://netnebraska.org/interactive-multimedia/television/emery-blagdon-and-his-healing-machine
Have you ever known anyone who was a little odd? Crazy? Eccentric?
I can name several, but my favorite has to be the matronly elderly woman we all called the “Chicken Lady” in my hometown of North Platte. I remember her still in her baggy coat and walking cane. She truly seemed to love children and, eyes twinkling, always greeted them with loud squawks of “Bawk, bawk-bawk-bawk-BAWWKKK.”
I don’t recall ever hearing her talk normally to anyone, be it children or adults. Surely she knew words. I don’t know – shrug – but I never knew if I should laugh or feel sorry for her. One thing is certain, though. I’ve never forgotten her!