Howard Finster Before He Painted: Wood Creations from the 50s to 70s
- Chattooga County Residents & Members: $0.00
- Adults: $15.00
- Seniors: $10.00
- Students: $5.00
- Children 12 & Under: $0.00
Paradise Garden will open the exhibition Howard Finster
Before He Painted: Wood Creations from the 50s to 70s in the Garden’s
Museum & Visitor Center on Saturday, February 18, 2023.
The nonprofit Paradise Garden Foundation is excited to present Howard Finster Before He Painted because it showcases a little-known side of this creative powerhouse long before he became one of the 20th century’s best-known folk artists. Including wooden mantel clocks, toys, dollhouse furniture, and more pieces handcrafted by Finster, the exhibit will remain on view through Sunday, May 7, 2023.
Finster created an astounding 46,991 numbered artworks, most of them paintings, between 1976 and his death in 2001. Though many familiar with his bigger-than-life story assume that a fully formed artist was born the day in 1976 when a God-like voice commanded that he should “paint sacred art,” Finster was then already an accomplished woodworker. That is a different kind of creative expression for which he is famous but one, the Paradise Garden Foundation believes, worthy of study and appreciation on its own terms.
Woodworking was in the Finster bloodlines. Howard grew up in a farmhouse built from boards saw-milled by his farmer-father in Valley Head, Alabama. “The first art I made, really, was when I was about sixteen or seventeen years old, and I started doin’ woodwork,” he recalled in the 1989 book Howard Finster: Stranger from Another World, Man of Visions, Now on This Earth.
Inventive from the start, he created a lathe to turn wood from spare parts, including an old Model-T generator. Finster’s first wooden creations were a full-size bed, lamps, and toy cannons. Soon, he was producing multiple little black-walnut jugs for sale that were used as talcum powder shakers.
Howard and Pauline Finster’s daughter Thelma Finster Bradshaw explained in her book Howard Finster: The Early Years that her father “simply enjoyed the art of creating – whether it was a house, a ‘mansion,’ a kitchen cabinet or a doll-sized set of living room furniture.”
Finster later honed his carpentry skills while planning and constructing a home for Chelsea Baptist Church in Menlo, a farming community west of Summerville, where he pastored from 1950 to 1965, his longest tenure as a church minister. Finster and a deacon who owned a local sawmill harvested the wood to build the church’s exterior and interior.
Using these woodworking skills on a smaller scale, Finster also created dollhouse furniture for his young daughters, rolling toy cars for his son, bookcases, tables, kitchen cabinets, and floor and mantel clocks.
As he had as a teenager, he created his own woodworking tools, for example, using bicycle chains to create decorative edges.
Larry and Jane Schlachter, owners of Folk America Gallery and Summerville Trade Day, have generously loaned these never-before-exhibited woodworks for the exhibit that were created from the 1950s to the 1970s. A few rare pieces will be sold during the exhibit. A small selection of objects from the Paradise Garden Foundation archive will also be on view.
Howard Finster Before He Painted: Wood Creations from the 50s to 70s will run from February 18 to May 7, 2023 and will be on view during Paradise Garden’s regular operating hours, 11 am-5 pm Tuesdays through Sundays. For questions about the exhibit, please call 706-808-0800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.