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Howard Finster is perhaps the most famous self-taught artist of all time. Born in Alabama, he attended school for 6 years. Howard married Pauline Freeman in 1935 and had 5 children. He was a jack-of-all-trades: house painter, bicycle and lawnmower repairman-anything to support his family.

Howard was a Baptist Minister for about 40 years until, in 1965, he realized no one in his congregation was listening to him. At this time he was directed by the Lord to transform his swampland in Pennville, Georgia into Paradise Garden.

In 1976 an angel appeared upon the paint on his finger and said “paint sacred art”. Howard never stopped. He was inspired to get out the Lord’s message. Finster was a master promoter. After his first dealer, Jeff Camp, failed to sell his painting, he found Phyllis Kind who brought his work to prominence. Finster and his family produced some 50,000 works many of which were signed, dated and numbered.

A show of his cosmology and masterworks was presented at Lehigh University in the Fall of 2004.

The Reverend Howard Finster (1916-2001) at Folk Fest

The Reverend Howard Finster (1916-2001) at Folk Fest

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