Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 33

COURTESY PETER LOOSE

COURTESY PARADISE GARDEN FOUNDATION

People flock to Paradise Garden in Summerville each year for
Finster Fest, a celebration of Southern folk art.

Peter Loose, right, knew better than to visit Howard Finster, left,
without Loose's dog, Bongo.

and grants to restore and maintain the garden, and she
says visitation is up. With more than 6,000 visitors from 33
countries last year, the garden is an economic engine for
cultural tourism in rural Chattooga County.
"Today, we have at least 40 artists making a living by
their art in the county," Byington says.
The foundation has cleaned up the creeks that run
through the garden; shored up Rolling Chair Ramp, where

artwork hangs; stabilized the mirror house; and created
a visitors center with restrooms and a video about Finster. Because of its unique setting and Finster's influence,
"there is no other festival quite like this," Pousner says.
It's fitting that visitors get to discover new artists while
walking the paths and seeing the structures that Finster
created.

'I'm an artist because of you'

COURTESY PARADISE GARDEN FOUNDATION

Thomas E. Scanlin is a jeweler at Studio Jewelers in
Dahlonega and collects 20th-century American art. He
was a close friend of the Finsters, serves on the foundation's advisory board and often loans his iconic Finster
pieces to museums.
"I met Howard in the mid-'80s, and we became close
friends. He called me his 'guarding angel.' I was always
fascinated by his interaction with people," Scanlin says.
"He affected others in amazing ways."
Finster often told the story about how he became
an artist. He was painting a bicycle at 59, when paint on
his finger formed a face that said: "Paint sacred art. Paint
sacred art."
"He said God told him to paint 5,000 pieces, but he
made more than 46,991 works before he died," Scanlin
says. Many pieces are in museums worldwide.
Scanlin remembers driving him down to Folk Fest in
Atlanta.
"At the end it would take over an hour to get him out
of the building. Artists and vendors would line both sides
of the path, wanting to speak with him. Many would say,
'Howard, I'm an artist because of you,'" Scanlin says.
Artist Donnie Davis of Summerville came to Paradise
Garden for a fourth-grade field trip and listened as Finster
explained his inventions.
"He was an inspiration," says Davis, who went on
Left: Howard Finster called this 40-foot-high structure the World's
Folk Art Church because he said he preached through his art.
April 2018

More online at www.georgiamagazine.org

33


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - April 2018

Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 5
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 6
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 7
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 8
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 9
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 10
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 11
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 12
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Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 14
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 15
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 16
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Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - 18
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Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - April 2018 - Cover4
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