Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens

$15 for adults, $5 for students

Address: 200 N. Lewis St., Summerville, GA

Directions:North edge of town. From US Hwy 27 turn east onto Underwood Dairy Rd. Drive three blocks, then turn right onto N. Lewis St. Paradise Garden will be the last house on the right
Hours:Tu-Su 11-5 (Call to verify)
Phone:678-641-8700

 

If in the area, this is a must stop for anyone interested in folk art.  It has a religious bent, as Finster was a minister before feeling called to make art.  That call was strong, he was prolific, creating pieces in the thousands from age 60 until his death.  His work is shown all over, but the bulk of it is at Paradise Gardens, his 4 acre property in Summerville, GA, a rambling mass of buildings, sculptures and towers he created.  His workshop is still there and still intact with pieces scattered around seemingly mid-project.

Admission covers access to the grounds as well as the chance to view a mini-documentary about Howard Finster’s life.  It’s an interesting piece and reminded me at times of seeing the film at Crazy Horse about the man who up and decided to carve a huge sculpture into the rocks of South Dakota.  I am always a little in awe as well as a little wary of anyone who can not only dedicate themselves to an inner calling, but drag their entire family along for the ride.   That’s a rare dynamic and it results in either a resonance people from all over feel compelled to share in or else a dire warning of backwoods cults led by charismatic and crazy men with guns and definite ideas not always based in reality.

I took at least 100 photos in the few hours we were there, but I am only sharing a few as I think seeing it for oneself is truly the only way to experience the gardens.

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