Howard Finster. Preacher? Artist? Alien from another planet? Quite frankly, I think the verdict is out, but personally I am leaning towards the latter.
In our never ending goal of trying to find beautiful, fun or quirky places to visit, my bride identified a local point of interest she thought I might enjoy “shooting” – Harold Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville, GA. She was right. Again.
Anyone who drives from Atlanta, GA to Huntsville, AL will likely drive through Summerville, although unless you were actually looking for Paradise Garden you would probably miss it.
Located off of a side street at the end of a dead end, this place clearly falls into the fun and quirky category, and if you have the opportunity this is a great find!
Just because it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places doesn’t make this an easy place to find. If going, your best bet is to use the directions on the website http://paradisegardenfoundation.org under “plan your visit”.
If you are like me (pretty sure no one will admit to this), or unless you are in the art world, live in NYC, or have watched every episode of the Johnny Carson Show, you probably have never heard of Howard Finster.
As an artist and Baptist preacher, Howard acquired a swampy dump on a few acres of land in Summerville, GA to express himself. Literally a dump, he used many of the materials to create his artwork. While paying bills by repairing bikes, he grew his artwork to over 10,000 pieces, but didn’t gain national recognition until his artwork was used on album covers for R.E.M. and the Talking Heads.
As a classic in outside art, Finster says of his work… “I took the pieces you threw away and put them together by night and day. Washed by rain, dried by sun, a million pieces all in one.” Go see this place!