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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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Culture notes: 2 Finster exhibits, 4 other folk art shows make tempting getaways

By Howard Pousner
hpousner@ajc.com

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.

VISUAL ART
Folky summer shows

Some additional folk art shows that invite quick road trips for metro Atlantans:

  • “Just Folk,” through Aug. 11 at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center in Gainesville, includes the work of 30 contemporary folk artists including Ken “Blacktop” Gentle of Rome and Eric Legge of Dillard. Free. 514 Green St. 770-536-2575, www.qvac.org.
  • Main Street Gallery in Clayton opens “Cornbread’s Critters,” a show of folky wildlife paintings by Cumming artist John “Cornbread” Anderson, noon-2 p.m. June 23. Through July 24. 61 N. Main St. 706-782-2440, www.mainstreetgallery.net.
  • The 7th annual “Folk Art Family Reunion” at Around Back at Rocky’s Place in Dawsonville, is a small festival where the self-taught artists sell directly to the public. Among those participating will be painters Billy Roper and Brenda and Gregory Davis and potter Bill Clark. Though he won’t be manning one of the 20 booths himself, “Cornbread” Anderson will be there to meet his fans (Rocky’s Place always has plenty of Cornbread paintings available). 6-9 p.m. June 29, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. July 1. Free. 3631 Ga. 53 East (at Etowah River Road). 706-265-6030, www.aroundbackatrockysplace.com.
  • “Southern Folk Art from the Permanent Collection,” at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens, features works such the sculpture “Homeless Man” by the late Atlanta city councilman-turned-folk-artist Archie Byron, a 1920s stoneware face jug by Cheever Meaders and a painting by the late Willie Jinks, a former Atlanta sanitation worker who painted on all sorts of scavenged materials. “Southern Folk Art” will be open for viewing during Museum Mix, a free party with music from DJ Winston Parker in the museum’s Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture Garden, 8 p.m.-midnight July 12. 90 Carlton St. 706-542-4662, www.georgiamuseum.org. (Georgia Museum is also displaying the folk art exhibit “All Creatures Great and Small” at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport through Oct. 22.)

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