Howard Finster (1916 – 2001) was an American folk artist, Baptist minister and lawnmower repairman from Pennville, Georgia. Finster claimed that his artistic work was inspired by visions from God and his creative mission was to spread the gospel.
Finster created Paradise Gardens in his home’s expansive yard in Pennville, Georgia which contains thousands of works of art. Themes of his work range from American popular & historical icons such as Elvis Presley and George Washington to biblical figures and members of his own family.
Finster also gained national fame after his collaborative work with Athens, Georgia-based band R.E.M. The band filmed the video for “Radio Free Europe” in Finster’s Paradise Gardens, and used one of the artist’s works as the cover for their second album Reckoning. Subsequently, the band recorded the song “Maps and Legends” (for their album Fables of the Reconstruction) as an homage to Finster.
Throughout his creative career, Howard Finster was responsible for introducing millions to American naive art, but even with his increased fame, he remained focused on his works’ religious outreach to the public.
Here’s a video to learn & see more of artist Howard Finster & his Paradise Gardens…