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  • Georgia's Most Unfamous Famous Artist

    Howard Finster, a visionary painter in Summerville, estimates he has created 36,000 pieces of art. He also created Paradise Garden and restored an old chapel in his backyard. Music groups like REM and the Talking Heads have even asked him to create album covers for them. His art is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and the High Museum in Atlanta. Joanne Cubbs, folk art curator for the High, says that while his art appears simple, there are many messages and ideas that are intriguing.

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    Discuss

    1. For what reasons, other than the fact that he is a famous artist, would Howard Finster be the center of attention here?

    2. Why have Howard Finster’s paints made him world famous?

    3. Other than viewing Howard Finster's work at Paradise Gardens, where are native Georgian's artwork, music, and drama displayed here in Georgia?

    Expansion

    1. Choose one of the artists mentioned in this video. Write a biography of this person and present it in an interesting way – one that demonstrates their art: music, art, books, acting, etc.

    2. Bring in some albums of Ray Charles, RE.M., The Allman Brothers’ Band, Johnny Mercer, Robert Shaw for the class to listen to. Research where each is from in Georgia and the contributions they made to the music era in which they lived/are living.

    3. Your teachers should display some images of Howard Finster’s art in the classroom. Read what is written on the displayed images and explain the message Finster was trying to convey through his art.

    Vocabulary

    Avant-garde: new, daring, or extreme in styles or ideas or those who are considered in the forefront in implementing these new styles
    Smithsonian: the national museum of art, space, science, and history in Washington, DC; the national museum of learning
    folk art: art originating among the common people of a nation or region and usually reflecting their traditional culture, especially everyday or festive items produced or decorated by unschooled artists

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. For what reasons, other than the fact that he is a famous artist, would Howard Finster be the center of attention here?
    Mr. Finster is a folk artist whose work is rather primitive but has been on the covers of CDs by famous artists and in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington as well as the High Museum in Atlanta. The fact that he did not begin painting until he was 61 might be of interest, also. His studio and showcase of his work is called Paradise Garden, which is free and open to the public near Rome, GA. He talks about what his paintings mean to him and how he shows his faith through his works of art. (He died on Oct. 22, 2002 at the age of 85.) Official Howard Finster Website

    2. Why have Howard Finster’s paints made him world famous?
    Folk artists are rare, especially ones who have painted as many pieces as Howard Finster. Combining art with words, sermons, and Bible verses is unusual. This has captured the fascination of art critics as well as historians. TV, radio, newspapers, and art galleries have interviewed and advertised his work over the many years he has been painting. Paradise Gardens is a famous place for visitors to Georgia. It is advertised in tourism brochures and the Northwest Georgia Chambers of Commerce promote visits to this part of Georgia because of it.

    3. Other than viewing Howard Finster's work at Paradise Gardens, where are native Georgian's artwork, music, and drama displayed here in Georgia?
    The High Museum of Art has a permanent collection of Finster's work on display. Collections of the art of Georgians is also on display from time to time. The Atlanta History Museum has works of art of Georgians displayed in their collections from time to time. Black artists have had their music and art works displayed in galleries and in universities and colleges throughout the state and in Atlanta. The music of Georgians is often a part of the repertoire of theaters, clubs, and the various orchestras and symphonies around the state and in our colleges and universities. The plays written by Georgia authors have played to record audiences at the Alliance and other theaters around the state.

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