Category Archives: Pennville GA

Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, Summerville

Worlds Folk Art Chapel Howard Finster Paradise Garden Summerville GA Chattooga County Outsider Art Icon Eccentric Architecture Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

World’s Folk Art Chapel (begun 1982)

For the unfamiliar, Paradise Garden is the life’s work of the late Reverend Howard Finster (2 December 1915 or 1916-22 October 2001). A man of strong religious faith, Finster was a tireless folk artist who used his boundless energy and talent to spread the word of God in every available medium. The folk art chapel (above), as well as much of the garden itself, is presently being restored after going back to nature in the time since his passing. His own words sum up his mission and are often used to describe his philosophy of reusing, recycling and casting nothing of value aside: “I took the pieces you threw away-put them together by night & day-washed by rain and dried by sun, a million pieces all in one!” As a matter of fact, Finster created over 40,000 pieces of art in his lifetime.

Howard Finster I took the pieces you threw away put them together by night day washed by rain dried by sun a million pieces all in one photograph copyright brian brown vanishing north georgia usa 2014

Howard Finster rose to national prominence and widespread fame in the 1980s thanks to his work being featured on album covers by the Talking Heads, R.E.M., and many others.  R.E.M. even shot much of their video for “Radio Free Europe” at the garden and featured a cameo of Howard. During this time Reverend Finster was also a guest on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson which helped cement his national reputation.

Howard Finsters Cadillac Paradise Garden Summerville GA Chattooga County Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Howard’s Cadillac

Visiting Paradise Garden for the first time was a life-changing experience for me. The people of Chattooga County are understandably proud to call Howard one of their own and in all  my travels around Georgia, they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. The next three images highlight the Rolling Chair Ramp Gallery, where work from fans and admirers, as well as ephemera and memorabilia from Howard’s life are displayed. He built this structure mainly to share his message with those who were unable to walk around the garden.

Paradise Garden Summerville GA Chattooga County Rolling Chair Ramp Folk Art Museum National Register of Historic Places Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Paradise Garden Summerville GA Chattooga County Rolling Chair Ramp Folk Art Museum Interior National Register of Historic Places Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Folk Art Memorabillia Howard Finster Tributes Archives Ephemera Paradise Garden Summerville GA Photograph Copyrigh Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

The Coca-Cola Bottle House (below) was used as a pump house.

Howard Finster Paradise Garden Summerville GA Folk Art Landmark Bottle Wall Shed Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Howard let nothing go to waste, not even the waste basket.

Paradise Garden Summerville GA Folk Artist Outsider Art Howard Finster Jesus Saves Garbage Can Pineapple Sage National Regsiter of Historic Places Photograph copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

This giant cement shoe is one of my favorite items in the garden.

Giant Cement Shoe at Howard Finsters Paradise Garden Summerville GA Chattooga County Landmark National Register of Historic Places Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Enjoy the next few photographs and get an idea of this visionary’s world. Of course, the only way to really appreciate it is to make the journey to Summerville yourself. You won’t regret it!

Paradise Garden Summerville GA Howard Finster Sculptural Concrete Wall Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgai USA 2014

Howard Finsters Paradise Garden Folk Art Summerville GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Howard Finster Paradise Garden Summerville GA The Riches of God is to believe in the lord jesus christ and thou shalt be saved today is the day trail sign photograph copyright brian brown vanishing north georgia usa 2014

The mirror house (below) is being restored.

Restoration of Howard Finsters Paradise Garden Summerville GA Mirror House Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2014

Jesus Saves Tile Mosaic Howard Finster Paradise Garden Summerville GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

In the mosaic garden…

Three Dimensional Sculptural Mosaic Walls Broken Glass Shards Ceramics Howard Finsters Paradise Garden Summerville GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Howard Finster Tribute Folk Art Get Right with God at Paradise Garden Summerville GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Tributes to Howard Finster

Howard Finsters Paradise Garden Summerville GA WIldlife Painting on Tin Folk Art Signs Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Paradise Garden Hoardes of Crockery Pots Pickle Jars Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Some of Howard’s “supplies”.

Howard Finsters Paradise Garden Picture House Sign Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgai USA 2014

The tour is entirely self-guided, unless you ask for a guide, and you are guaranteed to get lost in the whimsy of this place. Consider that a good thing.

Howard Finster Paradise Garden Summerville GA Chattooga County Folk Art Icon Tributes Memorial Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Howard Finster Memorial

Howard Finsters House at Paradise Garden Front Porch Self Portrait Folk Art Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

Detail of Finster Self-Portrait and the front porch of his home, now the visitor’s center.

Howard Finsters House at Paradise Garden Now Visitor Center Front Porch Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing North Georgia USA 2014

National Register of Historic Places

https://www.facebook.com/howardfinstersparadisegardens

http://paradisegardenfoundation.org/

To learn more about Howard, simply search his name on YouTube for lots of interviews, &c.

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