By Howard Pousner
Somewhere in heaven, Howard Finster must be smiling.
The northwest Georgia folk artist died in 2001, leaving a legacy of more than 46,000 numbered works of art as well as what many consider his masterpiece, the Paradise Garden art environment near Summerville. Finster’s found-object garden has been in the headlines in recent weeks, its new owner, Chattooga County, having been awarded a $445,000 restoration grant by ArtPlace America.
Further spreading the fire-and-brimstone messages that Finster inscribed on all his creations are two exhibits by the self-proclaimed “Man of Visions” that will be showing this month in Savannah and Rome.
The bigger of the duo is the nationally touring “Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster,” a career survey that opens on FridayJune 29 at the Jepson Center, the contemporary art showcase of Savannah’s Telfair Museums.
Reviewing the show at its last stop, at Akron Art Museum in Ohio, Cleveland Plain Dealer critic Steven Litt wrote: “More than anything, the exhibition encapsulates the nervous, jittery, caffeine-laced vitality of Finster as a preacher, a man of visions and a lovable crank who appeared never to sleep. . . . And yet, for all the fire and brimstone, Finster’s paintings have a childlike, upbeat quality, which makes his art amusing and engaging, rather than grim or tendentious.”
Through Aug. 19 at the Jepson, 207 W.York St., Savannah. Adult admission is $20 for all three Telfair museums (over one week) or $12 for the Jepson only. 912-790-8800, www.telfair.org/jepson.
There’s more Finster to engage at the Rome Area History Museum in the recently opened exhibit “Howard Finster’s Paradise,” continuing through July 7. Presented with the Rome Area Council for the Arts and the Paradise Garden Foundation (the new nonprofit that has leased the garden and will carry out its restoration), the show incorporates original paintings and constructions, writings by Finster and remembrances by some of the notables who entered his orbit.
Free. 305 Broad St., Rome. 706-250-1278, www.romearts.org.
Folky summer shows
Some additional folk art shows that invite quick road trips for metro Atlantans: