An Inspiring, Spiritually Charged Day Trip from Atlanta
“I built the park because I was commissioned by God.” – Howard Finster
After leaving the Burial Grounds mentioned in the Travel section of December’s Bold Favor Magazine, you should head to Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, about an hour to Rome, GA, home to Berry College and Berry Mountain. If you haven’t seen this college’s bucolic campus and private mountain with a cabin built on top at its center, you may want to call ahead to arrange a visit and add this to your itinerary. Just 30 – 45 minutes from there is the small town of Summerville, which turns out is also one of the departing points on the Trail of Tears which is one of our most brutal chapters in American history.
Here you will find the impressive, colorful and wildly eccentric artist home, gardens and newly installed visitor center celebrating one of Georgia’s most exceptional creative forces: artist Howard Finster. For those who may not have heard of Finster, he was a bicycle repairman, musician, minister and avid showman. Finster became “born again” at age 13, began to preach at age 16, and before 60, began making spiritually inspired art, becoming both one of the most, prolific artists of the 20th century who appeared on the “Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show”.
Much of his extraordinary collection of more than 47,000 works incorporate imagery such as George Washington, Santa Claus, Coca~Cola bottles, “John the Baptist”, UFO’s as well as politics, war, and bible verses.
Self-taught in the Outsider, Naive, Visionary and Folk Art traditions, Finster, is a happily married family man with five children and one of 13 children born on an Alabama farm, received a vision from God to create 5000 sacred works of art but ended up creating exponentially more. You’ll need to spend more than the hour or so to investigate his unique 2.5 acre world garden which includes the world’s only Folk Art Chapel with cupola; a mirrored house with its own stairway to heaven; walkways, murals; intricately planted beds with bridges over water elements; monumental installations and more – all impressively landscaped in his actual Summerville backyard. Entry fee is modest.
If you opt to stay the night, there are some appealing and affordable bed and breakfasts in Summerville you can find on the Finster website:paradisegardenfoundation.org. However, If you prefer not to make the 2 plus hour ride from Atlanta, you can find a very fine collection of Finster’s work at Atlanta’s magnificent High Museum of Art,
Cathy H. Burroughs writes frequently about travel in the pages of BOLD Favor Magazine as well as other articles in other publications including the Washington Post. Her event and entertainment company Psychic Solutions Entertainment provides world class entertainers for private parties and corporate events perfect for the holidays, New Years’ and beyond. To learn more contact Cathy at Cathyb108@aol.com, via cell/text: (404) 543-1080, office: (404) 292-2000, or check out www.cathyburroughs.com.