(ODD)yssey, Blog Post

Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden filled with quirky, sometimes creepy, surprises

Paradise Garden, a site on the National Register of Historic Places in Summerville, Ga., contains the works of Howard Finster, a renowned folk artist.

I’ve written a little about Finster in the past for my work with AL.com because he was born in Valley Head, Ala. Click here to read that story. But until my trip with Sweetums to the Georgia mountains last week, I had never had the opportunity to visit his major creation, an outsider art installation he named Paradise Garden. Finster died in 2001 and the site is now open to the public for tours and maintained by the Paradise Garden Foundation.

The website explains, “At the age of 59 in 1976, Finster received a vision from God to create 5000 sacred works. After completing this number in 1985, Finster went on to produce over 46,991 works before his death in October 2001.”

The site explains Finster’s inspiration in his own words:

“One day I dipped my finger in some white paint and picked it up, and when I picked it up, it formed a face before I ever seen a face, and I turned it around to look and see if I had too much paint and there was two eyes, a mouth, a nose, and everything. A whole face. My finger looked like a face. And there was a feeling just came over me and said, “paint sacred art”. I said “Lord, I can’t paint. I don’t have no education in that”. So I took a dollar bill out of my wallet and started posing on the picture of George Washington. Some kids were around watching me work and that was the first time I felt I was an artist.”

Here are some of my photos from Paradise Garden, including a concrete coffin that contains the 200-year-old remains of an unknown teenage girl.

paradise garden 1
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 2
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 3
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 4
Inside the museum at Paradise Garden. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission Required)
Paradise garden 5
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 6
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 7
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 8
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 9
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 10
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 11
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 12
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 13
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 14
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 15
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 16
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 17
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 18
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 19
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 20
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 21
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 22
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 23
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 24
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 25
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 26
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 27
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 28
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 29
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 30
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 31
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 32
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 33
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 34
The 200-year-old remains of an unknown teen girl at Paradise Gardens. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 35
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 36
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 37
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 38
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 39
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 40
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 41
The 200-year-old remains of an unknown teen girl at Paradise Gardens. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)
paradise garden 42
Paradise Garden in Summerville, Ga., is the creation of folk artist Howard Finster, who died in 2001. The site is now a historic landmark open to the public. (Photo by Kelly Kazek | Permission required)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s