Finster, Reverend Howard(American, 1916-2001)
Howard Finster is widely considered to be the grandfather of contemporary American folk art. The youngest of thirteen children, Finster began preaching as a teenager in rural Alabama. It was not until 1976, at the age of 60, that he had a vision which commanded him to "make sacred art." Thereafter, Finster spent the last 25 years of his life, until his death in 2001, painstakingly creating “Paradise Garden” at his home in Summerville, Georgia. Paradise Garden, which he said was "commissioned from God," was a lush, modern-day version of the Garden of Eden, and ultimately became a rendering of his fantastic visionary world. Finster created and numbered more than 50,000 pieces of original art which combine both image and text, and which feature such icons as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and George Washington. All of Finster’s works were a part of what he believed was a crusade to save the world. Finster's ability to spread his views was indeed impressive. He appeared on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, his artwork decorates album covers of popular rock groups such as R.E.M. and the Talking Heads and thousands of tourists make the pilgrimage to his Paradise Garden every year..

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