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Take Me Down to Paradise Gardens

Finster Fest will be held 10 AM-6 PM Saturday May 27 and 11 AM-5 PM Sunday, May 28 at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, just outside Summerville, GA. It will feature the work of some 50 mostly self-taught artists, live music and food and drink. Admission will be $5. Proceeds help fund the operation of Howard Finster’s extraordinary art environment.

ARTISTS RETURNING FROM 2016
Michael Banks, paintings
Missionary Mary Proctor, paintings and metal cutouts
Peter Loose, paintings
C.M. Laster, Grace Kelly Laster and Ruby Laster, paintings
Jim Shores, found-object sculpture
Kip Ramey and Coralie Hardman, paintings
Rik Long, paintings, bird-houses
Chris “Chubb” Hubbard, paintings on cutout metal
C. Larry Wilson, pottery
Tom and Judy Touchstone, pottery
Cap Man Straehla, paintings
Suzy Sue Smith, paintings and 3-D objects
Pixie Jacquin, paintings and prints
John Reno, paintings
Celena Schoen, pottery
James Schroeder, paintings
Fawne DeRosia, paintings
Becky Altman, paintings
Randy Tobias, pottery and painted garden art
Mark Cool, furnishings from reclaimed wood
Kim Plant, handmade soaps
Karen and Courtney Duke, dolls and paintings
Martha Sandlin, mosaic glass angels and paintings
Stephen Barwick, prints
Joy Walker, beaded necklaces
Don Stone, paintings
Russell Cook, drawings, paintings, mixed media works
Adam Sikes, handmade guitars

ADDED FOR 2017
Shane Campbell, wooden sculpture
Ab the Flagman, 3D paintings
Jeffree Lerner, paintings
Frank McGuigan, paintings
Kimberly Dawn Crowder, paintings
Mavis Stevens, fiber art
Christy Buchanan, painter
Charlie Dingler, blacksmithing and whirligigs
Mariah Hope, paintings
Michael Ball, pottery
Jason Mott, paintings
Kate Leonard, copper jewelry
Chuck Hanes and Elizabeth Collins, pottery
Kristen Ramsey, painted wooden signs
Charlie Frye, paintings
Mandy Grant, stained glass angels
Kristin Quackenbush and Kat Moore, paintings, jewelry
Nina Manuel, handmade teddy bears
Lee Laney, drawings
Mack Anderson, paintings
Natalie Heath Flynn, embroidery with attitude
Candy Pegram, paintings
Evan Atkison, concrete outdoor art

Finster Fest will be held 10 AM-6 PM Saturday May 27 and 11 AM-5 PM Sunday, May 28 at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, just outside Summerville, GA. It will feature the work of some 50 mostly self-taught artists, live music (list announced soon) and food and drink. Admission: $5. Proceeds help fund the operation of Howard Finster’s extraordinary art environment.

Who was Howard Finster? 

Local folk artist with national celebrity, Howard Finster was born December 2nd, 1916, in Valley Head, Alabama. He was one of 14 children.

Finster was saved at the age of 13, and by the age of 16 he was preaching to a growing congregation. In spite of leaving the pulpit to pursue art full-time, Finster never quit preaching. He included Bible verses and angels on most all of his art work as his method of helping people remember the word of God.  He moved to Chattooga County, Georgia in 1937. 

Howard saw things; he was literally  a man of visions. These visions inspired him to create a universe of unusual paintings, sculptures, and drawings. A self-taught folk artist and preacher, he became one of the most important creative artists of the twentieth century. Finster numbered his paintings to keep track of how many he had completed because, according to Howard, God had asked him to do 5,000 paintings.  Finster saw fit to go far beyond that heavenly request and, before 1990, he was well into the tens of thousands. Finster also used his creative style to write and pick folk music on his banjo.

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In 1961, Finster began his most famous work, Paradise Gardens, located in Pennville.  A four-acre ‘Garden of Eden’, Paradise Gardens devoted to the two things Howard loved the most, Jesus and art. He turned rescued trash into art like the Mirror House, The Bicycle Tower, the Bottle House and Hubcap Tower, along with historical and cultural figures from George Washington to Elvis. Finster even built his own Chapel on the property. 

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The Chapel at Paradise Gardens

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Even the ground at Paradise Gardens is artwork

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The Bottle House

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By the early 1980s Finster’s work had begun to gain fame outside of the country town of Summerville. He created album covers for rising musicians REM and the Talking Heads, and appeared on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”  In spite of Howard’s growing fame, his ministry remained his primary focus. The Talking Heads album cover contained twenty-six religious scriptures. The album sold one million records in the first two and a half months after it was released, Howard viewed this as twenty-six million verses shared into the world in barely eighty days. The talking Heads Album ‘Little Creatures’ went on to become double platinum, selling well over two million copies and was voted by Rolling Stones as album cover of the year. One would assume that made Jesus smile.

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Today Howard’s art fills hundreds of exhibits, including a permanent display at the High Museum in Atlanta. By the time of his death on October 22, 2001, Howard Finster had created more than 46,000 pieces of art and left a legacy that would last far beyond his passing.

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While at Paradise Gardens enjoy the art and gardens of Howard’s and a coke from the new Howard Coke machine.

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Howard Finster left his mark on the world through folk art and his love of Jesus.

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