I wanted to take a moment to reminisce on one of the best spontaneous experiences I’ve ever had. We were on our way back from a road trip to Northern California on HWY 101, and on the side of the road in Bandon, OR I see a trippy white building with “IMAGINATION GYMNASIUM” along the top. We decide to turn around and check it out. Skeptical that it was anything more then a head shop, we wandered inside. What we experienced is one of the best memories I have. We hit the goldmine with the experimental art studio and home of James A. “Doc” Shepard Senior, and his son. We happened to be the only visitors that day and were welcomed in eagerly. A bit nervous and a bit curious we walked further inside. The front room had tons of painting’s and collages everywhere with themes ranging from abstract and obscure to sexually explicit and substance related. As we went further there was a backlight room to the left filled with crazy psychedelic installations of fluorescent paint strewn canvases and sheets, to glowing bottles and dismembered doll parts hanging from string. James’s son and another woman who was living there gave us a tour, even insisting that we touch an oil painting of a penis to feel its texture. We then went through the back room where James was hooked up to oxygen tanks and asleep, we felt bad being there but his son insisted we look around more and later woke up James to meet us. We eventually came upon the bathroom, every square inch of it covered in different colored markers and writings from passing travelers, we left our mark and left shortly after. The next time we took HWY 101 through Bandon we tried looking for it and it was nowhere to be found. We dug through the Internet with no references to be found, until a Facebook page popped up one day stating that James had passed away and that the family had re-located along with the art. I am so thankful I got to experience such an amazing place and meet some very unique people.
“Live Life in a Visual Overdose” – James A. Sheppard