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sed OBIT: Howard Finster passes 22 Oct 2001 (6) Howard Finster passes 22 Oct 2001 22 Oct 01

[I found this in my mailbox tonight. Steve Sedberry]

Banjo player, singer, & artist Howard Finster Dies

Posted By: Brent A. Tozzer Date: Monday, 22 October 2001, at 5:44 p.m.

OCTOBER 22, 15:48 EDT Folk Artist Howard Finster Dies

SUMMERVILLE, Ga. (AP) The Rev. Howard Finster, a folk artist who created sermons in paint that were featured on the covers of rock albums and in galleries worldwide, died Monday of congestive heart failure. He was 84.

Finster died at Redmond Regional Medical Center in nearby Rome, Erwin-Pettit Funeral Home of Summerville said.

Finster, a Baptist minister since his teens, began his art career in his late 40s, creating works that ranged from wooden cutouts to paintings to assemblages, many of which he adorned with messages like ``Hell is a hell of a place'' in block letters.

He often used pop culture icons such as the Coca-Cola bottle, Cadillacs and Elvis Presley in his work.

``When Christ called his disciples, he called fishermen, he didn't call nobody from a qualified university,'' Finster said in a 1990 magazine interview. ``He used common people to reveal parables. That's what I do. I use Elvis because I'm a fan of Elvis. Elvis was a great guy. By using him I get people's attention and they read my messages.''

Finster was considered a pioneer among self-taught artists, advancing the ``outsider'' movement with his unique personality, unflagging salesmanship and resolute work ethic. Such artists work ``outside'' the aesthetic of formal art training.

``He was an introduction to this art for a lot of individuals who had never heard of it,'' said Marcia Weber, a gallery owner in Montgomery, Ala., who has handled several Finster paintings. ``He broke ground.''

Finster's work, consistently imbued with evangelistic themes that exhort the viewer to repent and accept Christ, became popular in the early 1980s in New York art galleries.

``He took the word of God and did it entirely in his own way, this eccentric, unconventional manner,'' said Lynne Spriggs, folk art curator at Atlanta's High Museum of Art, which holds the world's largest collection of Finster works. ``He was a tireless artist and a great teacher.''

Finster's widest exposure may have been from music cover art.

The Georgia-based rock band R.E.M. asked Finster to make the cover for its 1984 album, ``Reckoning.'' A year later, Talking Heads, a musical group of former art students, commissioned Finster for the cover of its ``Little Creatures'' recording.

Finster was also known for his three-acre Paradise Garden, which he described as a ``folk art haven,'' built in 1961 on filled swampland behind his home in Pennville in northwest Georgia.

Paradise Garden features mosaic cement paths, a giant cement boot, the Tomb of the Unknown Body and Finster's folk art chapel. For years, he spent Sunday afternoons at the garden greeting visitors. He later moved to nearby Summerville, and Paradise Garden is now largely owned by the High Museum of Art.

Finster was born on a small farm in DeKalb County, Ala., on Dec. 2, 1916, and became a Baptist preacher at age 16.

For more than three decades, he traveled Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee preaching at tent revivals and supplementing his income with odd jobs, including plumbing and bicycle repair.

In recent years, most of Finster's work was advertised on his Web site, with the artist himself working at an almost assembly-line pace.

``We can call it commercialism, but his aim is that his art serves a didactic function: to spread the word,'' said Lee Kogan, a friend of Finster's and director of special projects at the Museum of American Folk Art in New York. ``His art serves God. He's interested in getting this message out.''

Survivors include his wife, Pauline Freeman Finster; four daughters; a son; 15 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

On the Net:

Howard Finster's official Web page, ---30---

[then I looked and found this: SS]

Who is Howard Finster?


A little boy standing in the fields of his sweet home in Alabama had his first vision at age three. Howard Finster looked up to see his sister come down from the clouds with steps appearing before her as she came and went, never touching the ground. Her name was Abby and he called to her. Little did he know that he had just had his first vision. He grew up in a family of thirteen children, several siblings left him to be with Jesus before he was grown. At the age of sixteen he was called to preach, started many tent revivals, and built several churches. He married Pauline and they raised five children. They have always been faithful in their marriage, to their children, and most of all, to the service of the Lord. The story is told that the Reverend Howard Finster gave up preaching because one Sunday night he asked who remembered his Sunday morning sermon. No one did. Now he preaches out to the congregation of the world.

Howard Finster is the creator of Paradise Gardens Park & Museum, a product of all his Folk Art and Chattooga County's largest tourist attraction. He began this Paradise Gardens 37 years ago before he had a vision to do sacred art. Around 1976 in Paradise Gardens he was painting a bicycle with his fingers and saw the image of a face on the end of his finger. He had a vision. A voice told Howard to paint sacred art. He replied that he could not do art because he was not a professional. The voice asked him repeatedly, "How do you know?... The reverend Howard Finster has followed his vision and the image of the face on his finger become known as his "Resting Souls" figures in his art. Hundreds of visitors come each week to wonder through the park and Howard is there on Sundays to speak to his fans. Paradise Gardens is a maze of abstract, symbolic sculptures and structures. The presence of the scriptures, their lessons and The Reverend Howard's messages from God pervades throughout the Gardens and the Chapel. The Garden Chapel that he built, now awaits to be refurbished with old magazines and books on Howard Finster and his art. Up the winding staircase are drawings, paintings, sculptures and many of his unusual collections. Howard Finster is truly a visionary man who shares his unique gift freely with anyone who takes the time to care. He seems a simple man, yet his wisdom cannot be measured. He is a warm, compassionate man with a story to tell. He is loved by people of all ages and little children special in his heart.

Howard has had art showings across the world, including the Library Of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institute. He has taught many students in college workshops across the nation. He has been on the front page of the wall street journal, and featured in many magazines and newspapers including Time, Life, Southern Living, NY and Chicago Times. He was on the Johnny Carson Show , Good Morning America and has been interviewed by several TV Broadcasts including Canada, England, and Japan.

The Reverend has painted an album cover for the rock group R.E.M. and one for the group the Talking Heads. The Talking Heads Album cover for the rock group R.E.M. and one for the group the Talking Heads. The Talking Heads Album was voted album cover of the year by Rolling Stone Magazine in 1985. R.E.M. filmed a video for the song, "Radio Free Europe" in Paradise Gardens Park & Museum around 1989. In 1993 he also did an Album cover for Memory Dane.

December 1995, the Reverend Howard was presented with an Art exhibit Birthday Party at the High Museum of Atlanta. The Art exhibit proved to be the Museum's largest nationwide exhibition. Spring of 1996 he attended the dedication and opening of the Paradise Gardens sculpture exhibit at the High. Don't miss the real three acre Paradise Gardens Park & Museum and the Finster Folk Art Gallery where his original arts are shown in Summerville Georgia.

The Country Music Group, Blackhawk came to visit Paradise Garden and sang a song to Howard. It is called "That's Just About Right" and it describes Howard and his message to the world. The video was in the top five in 1995.

The Coca Cola Company is one of Howard's Greatest fans. They commissioned him to paint an eight foot Olympic Coke Bottle to represent the United States Art exhibits for the Olympics in 1996.

Howard's Art and messages have inspired people all over the world including children that visit him and learn about his Folk Art. He was honored with the Governor's award and chosen to paint an Easter Egg for the Annual Easter Egg Hunt at the White House. He is recognized with letters from leaders all over the Country for his astounding works of Folk Art.

Turner Publishing commissioned Howard to paint illustrations for "The Night Before Christmas" in 1996 and is available in the Finster Folk Art Gallery. This assignment brought this 79 year old Folk Artist back in touch with his own childhood. The illustrations are visions of a previous time filled with wonder from an eccentric world renown Folk Artist. He dedicated the illustrations to all the children in the world including the "Big Ones" and his dreams of restoring his Paradise Gardens.He painted a wooden box symbolizing the C.A.R.E. package for the program's 50 th Anniversary. It was presented to President Clinton on May 9th of 1996. He completed a painting to raise funds for the Habitat for Humanity and attended the 1996 annual convention in Atlanta where he signed many prints made from the painting. The 25x39 Habitat print is available now at Finster Folk Art Gallery.

June of 1996, Howard Finster started a revival & slide show, and art exhibit in Myrtle Beach S.C. at the Peter Nein Gallery. The mayor of Myrtle Beach attended and give Howard a key to the city July, 1996.

One Sunday, in December 1996, Howard was visited by the famous Gospel and Country singer, Marty Stuart and Connie Smith, who is now Mrs. Connie Stuart. They sang Gospel songs together and Howard completed an original cut-out portrait of Marty on July 4, 1997. Marty was presented with the first cut-out. The Marty Stuart Cut-out originals are now available to purchase at The Finster Folk Art Gallery.

The Reverend Howard Finster had a light stroke affecting his right eye and his balance in January 1997 and on February 21, he went through prostate gland and bladder surgery. During immediate recovery at home, he continued the dedication of his sacred art for the Lord. On April 24, 1997 Howard took a Delta flight to Pennsylvania to speak on the arts of the Millennium at the Lehigh University. He signed autographs all day on Saturday at the Howard Finster Festival in Summerville on May 10th July 26, 1997. He worked with children of all ages at the Annual Recycled Art Project at Paradise Gardens.

The following day he delivered a short sermon and altar call during the Howard Finster Music Revival in the Meditation Building at Paradise Gardens. Reverend Billy Wright, previous pastor and owner of the Garden Chapel, delivered the primary sermon and various regional music artists played and sang gospel music with their hand-made instruments.

The Reverend Howard took another flight on the Delta to speak at the Elvis Conference in Memphis on August 17, 1997, and returned to be at the Atlanta Folk Fest on Saturday, 16th. He also made an appearance at the Mule Camp Festival in Gainesville, and the Kentuck Festival in Tuscaloosa, Alabama during the month of October. In December, Howard went to Nashville for a show and presented his newest cut-out to Marty Stuart. Howard was scheduled to be on the Grand Ole Opry, but his trip was made short due to a medical problem.

On January 24, 1998 The Reverend toured the Picasso Show at the High Museum in Atlanta, and was a guest speaker for the show. He attended the Riverfest in Columbus, The Howard Finster Festival May 2, 1998 the Summerfest at Virginia Highlands in Atlanta, The Recycled Art Project at Paradise Gardens in July, The Folk Fest 98 at the North Atlanta Trade Center in August, the Athens Folk Fest, The Mule Camp in Gainesville during October, and Kentuck Folk Art Festival in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in October of 1998.

In 1998 Howard Art was shown at the Baltimore Visionary Art Museum where the Arts of the Millennium was featured. A book of the show called, "The End is Near" was published and Howard attended the book signing in New York January of 1999. He also went the the Governor's Inaugural Ball in Atlanta during January, 1999. In March of 1999, Howard flew to Memphis University to record his music and design silk screens for a class. He also attended the Art Show at the Southside Gallery in Oxford, Mississippi. In April he went to the Dogwood Festival in Atlanta and the Riverfest at Columbus.

The 1999 Howard Finster Fest was held successfully at Paradise Gardens on May 15th, and 16th for the first time. There were over 60 folk artists from Pennsylvania to Florida. Music was played around the Meditation building by artists using their handmade instruments. Howard had Cataract Eye surgery on May 20. His eyesight is improved by 95%.

This year Howard completed a 4x8 foot painting of "The Lord's Supper." Prints are now available in the Finster Folk Art Gallery. Howard went to Summerfest in June, Nashville in July, Folk Fest in August, and to the House Of Blues in Orlando Florida during the month of November.

March of 2000, Howard flew to New York to do a presentation slide show of his earlier works of art at the American Folk Art Museum.

On his return from New York, three days later Howard was admitted to the Hospital and diagnosed with congestive heart failure and pneumonia in both lungs. He did not return to painting again for approximately six weeks. During this time, not knowing if he would be painting again, I began to recreate his works of art. Both Howard and myself autograph the pieces so there will be no confusion between his originals and my recreations. I have completed 75 pieces and sold 50 so far. They are numbered as they are completed. They sell for less than 1/3 of his original prices.

Howard began visiting the gardens again on Sundays after two months and came to the Millennium Howard Finster Fest on both Saturday and Sunday.

June 15, 2000 Howard was admitted in the Hospital again with the discovery of two blood clots in his lungs and one in his leg. He was put on blood thinner and went to be with the Lord a year later on Oct. 22, 2001. Praise the Lord, Jesus Christ for the time that we had with him. His spirit is always here and in our hearts.

The 4th Annual Howard Finster Fest 2002 will be on Saturday, May 18th, and Sunday, May 19th in Paradise Gardens . For more information call 1-800-Finster or 706-857-2926. b

By Beverly Finster, Howard Finster's daughter handmade instruments. Howard had Cataract Eye surgery on May 2 Fest will on Saturday, May 20, and Sund

1-800-Finster or 706-857-2926

Next Howard Finster Fest, May 18 & 19, 2002

[and finally I wrote this: Steve Sedberry, 22 Oct 2001]

It's a shock to us the living to lose Howard Finster. Years ago down in Rushton Park on Highland Avenue in Birmingham I co-mingled with this fellow musician before I re-opened my heart to Jesus Christ. I remember playing my Appalachian Autoharp and singing "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" for Finster and some others at the informal gathering organized by Marian McKay and Spider Martin. Listening to myself sing the words to that depressing song I first heard the song uncolored by my own assumptions. I realized that this was not the song to sing at this gathering and certainly not for Howard Finster. Years later after reading the Bible more than my agnostic friends thought healthy I found myself changing the words to that old song that I'd been singing unchanged for 25 years! "God still loves you when you're down and out; In your pocket you haven't got a penny but God still loves you when you don't have any. Only through Jesus do we have a chance..." I don't really remember all of it right now. But the point was simply that Howard Finster's presence there that day, his asking me to sing and his listening to my song had its positive, life-changing effect. Praise God for using each of us to reach all of us in Christ's Holy Name. Still Singin' Steve Sedberry

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