Biography

Howard Finster is a folk artist, renowned for his more than 40,000 paintings. Preaching from the age of 16, Finster became a reverend in 1940 and retired from it in 1965 to create what he called “sacred art.” Finster created of Paradise Gardens Park and Museum, located in Pennville, Georgiahe. In the early 1960s, Finster bought a parcel of swampy land, which he cleared and drained by hand. For the enjoyment of visitors, he planted edible and ornamental plants and began to construct concrete walkways, walls, and miniature mountains encrusted with thousands of found objects — everything from glass marbles to a jar containing a neighbor’s tonsils.  Beside the walkways, he modeled figurative concrete sculptures; over the years, he built many structures, including a tall tower of bicycle parts and a chapel, the World’s Folk Art Church. Through the 1980s, Paradise Garden flourished, bringing visitors from around the world who he would preach to visitors and perform his own songs, accompanying himself on his banjo. In 1976, while painting a bicycle with his fingers, he saw the image of a face on the end of his finger. His work has been shown all around the world, including the Smithsonian Institute. There are permanent displays of his work at the Library of Congress and at the High Museum in Atlanta. He has been featured in innumerable magazines and newspapers, including Time, Life, Southern Living, NY Times, Chicago Times, Rolling Stone, and People. He painted album covers for well -known rock musicians REM and Talking Heads, and was commissioned by the Coca-Cola company commissioned Howard to paint an eight foot Olympic Coke bottle to represent the United States art exhibit for the Olympics in 1996.

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