Filmmakers resurrect Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden

August 25, 20140 Comments

howardsstudioParadise Garden is a feature documentary film showing how art can thrive outside of museums and galleries in ordinary places and in everyday objects through the story of Howard Finster’s legacy.

Ava Leigh Stewart directed the film that captures Paradise Garden reborn from a “Place in Peril” to a viable economic development tool in North Georgia.  Producer Trey Lafave says, “All of us had a passion to tell this story about art, religion, and rock and roll.”   It took the team two years to complete, following the project from its inception in 2012, until the opening ceremony.

The filmmakers of Art West Film got involved in April 2012 to assist in raising funds and awareness for Paradise Garden after years of vandalism and neglect.   In June, ArtPlace awarded a $445,000 grant facilitating the adaptive renovation, adding a museum space, all while the cameras were rolling.  Finster was an icon, influencing the art and music of R.E.M., The Talking Heads, B-52s, Blackhawk, Keith Haring, Steve Penley, and his legacy continues with the people making this film.  Finster’s vision sparked a movement attracting visitors from all over the world.  Chris Frantz of The Talking Heads says, “We got him to do an album cover for Little Creatures and I must say it is one of my favorite Talking Heads album covers.   He is the Picasso of self taught artists and maybe even better than Picasso.”  Mike Mills from the rock band R.E.M. recalls of his visits, “I first met Howard Finster when we were shooting a video for our song, Radio Free Europe.  Paradise Garden was a combination of going to a museum and just finding something on the ground that was beautiful.”  Amy Ray, a member of the folk rock duo, The Indigo Girls made the pilgrimage while a college student at Emory University and says of Howard, “There are certain people that rise, and they touch you in this way, and have this thing that everyone can relate.” Cindy Wilson of the B-52s and her husband Keith Bennett visited Howard Finster the day after her brother Ricky died in 1985 and she remembers, “I lost my brother and we decided to take a drive, then ended up in Summerville at Paradise Garden.  Reverend Finster was the kindest man, he told us about his religious philosophy, and it was the perfect thing I could have done.”   Artist Steve Penley visited Paradise Garden while he was a student and said, “The first time I ever heard of Howard Finster’s work was when I was in the Art Department at the University of Georgia and my professor Jim Herbert was big buddies with R.E.M, Michael Stipe, and he did a lot of video stuff with them at Paradise Garden.  So I was hearing about this Howard Finster guy all the time and I went out there and it was the most bizarre place I have ever seen in my life.  He gave people a vehicle to come into his crazy world and I mean that as a compliment.”

It shows that art is a powerful force for change by taking Howard Finster’s messages to a new dimension and audience.   For the latest about the project visit the official website finsterfilm.com.

Behind the Scenes: Paradise Garden Howard Finster’s Legacy with Director, Ava Leigh Stewart from Art West Film – Ava Leigh on Vimeo.

Filed in: Film
Tagged with:

Leave a Reply

Back to Top

Powered by Maribol IMDB Plugin
Warning: mysql_query(): Access denied for user 'leighs75'@'localhost' (using password: NO) in /home2/leighs75/public_html/finsterfilm.com/wp-content/plugins/vsf-simple-stats/vsf_simple_stats_shutdown.php on line 17

Warning: mysql_query(): A link to the server could not be established in /home2/leighs75/public_html/finsterfilm.com/wp-content/plugins/vsf-simple-stats/vsf_simple_stats_shutdown.php on line 17

Warning: mysql_fetch_row() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /home2/leighs75/public_html/finsterfilm.com/wp-content/plugins/vsf-simple-stats/vsf_simple_stats_shutdown.php on line 17

Warning: mysql_query(): Access denied for user 'leighs75'@'localhost' (using password: NO) in /home2/leighs75/public_html/finsterfilm.com/wp-content/plugins/vsf-simple-stats/vsf_simple_stats_shutdown.php on line 45

Warning: mysql_query(): A link to the server could not be established in /home2/leighs75/public_html/finsterfilm.com/wp-content/plugins/vsf-simple-stats/vsf_simple_stats_shutdown.php on line 45

Warning: mysql_query(): Access denied for user 'leighs75'@'localhost' (using password: NO) in /home2/leighs75/public_html/finsterfilm.com/wp-content/plugins/vsf-simple-stats/vsf_simple_stats_shutdown.php on line 47

Warning: mysql_query(): A link to the server could not be established in /home2/leighs75/public_html/finsterfilm.com/wp-content/plugins/vsf-simple-stats/vsf_simple_stats_shutdown.php on line 47

Warning: mysql_fetch_row() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /home2/leighs75/public_html/finsterfilm.com/wp-content/plugins/vsf-simple-stats/vsf_simple_stats_shutdown.php on line 47