May 01, 2012 Slideshows » A&E

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Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens 

Joeff Davis
The front of Finster's studio, cleaned up and with fresh landscaping, is once again the entry to Paradise Gardens, it has murals painted by Finster all around it.
Joeff Davis
Finster's 1985 "Ninevite" mural, one of his largest, wraps around an exterior wall of his former studio.
Joeff Davis
The inside of the studio contains many works of Finster's, including these.
Joeff Davis
A letter from George H.W. Bush to Finster hangs on the wall of Finster's studio (I am pretty sure those are Finster's decorations on the margins not Bush's).
Joeff Davis
A picture of Howard Finster stands on the shelf.
Joeff Davis
The cover of the REM's second album Reckoning featured Finster's work. One of his paintings also appears on the cover of the Talking Head album Little Creatures.
Joeff Davis
An easel Finster painted on inside the studio.
Joeff Davis
A sidewalk made up of broken ceramic and glass winds its way around the property.
Joeff Davis
Joeff Davis
Joeff Davis
Howard Finster put his $5,000 National Endowment for the Arts Grant toward the 1982 purchase of a nearby church, of which he promptly cut off the roof, added an elaborate cupola and christened the World's Folk Art Chapel.
Joeff Davis
The inside of the cupola contains many small mirrors, with polaroids, postcards and art reflecting as you climb the stairs.
Joeff Davis
The view from the top of the cupola.
An old cadillac at Paradise Gardens.
Joeff Davis
A large garden contains many of Finster's works.
Joeff Davis
Joeff Davis
Joeff Davis
A large stack of hubcaps and rusted car parts is made into a sculpture near the center of the property. REM's video for "Radio Free Europe" was shot in Paradise Gardens in 1983.
Joeff Davis
A coffin containing "remains of an unknown body" sit on the property.
Joeff Davis
Bird houses containing biblical messages hang from trees in Paradise Gardens.
Joeff Davis
Finster's religious ferver is apparent in works all over the property. "The purpose of the gardens is to unite people with God," says Beverly Finster-Guinn, the youngest of Finster's five children. "My father built the gardens like the prophets in the Old Testament built their temples. It was like his temple for God. He had wanted it filled with Bible scriptures and his paintings. His whole purpose, everything that he did was to point people to God."
Joeff Davis
Everywhere one looks are wood panels with hand written messages about, life, god, the bible and Jesus Christ.
Joeff Davis
Joeff Davis
Random piles of objects appear all over the property.
Joeff Davis
Joeff Davis
The story goes that one day, Finster was fixing a bike in his repair shop (pictured) when he received a divine vision telling him to make sacred art. A dollop of paint on his index finger morphed into a face to deliver the message. Finster, being a man of God and not one to take such communications lightly, affirmed his calling by ceasing the repairs and casting his tools in cement. A concrete slab embedded with his tools is now part of the High Museum's permanent collection.
Joeff Davis
Intricate concrete mounds blanket one corner of Paradise Gardens called the Mosaic Garden. Objects appear cased in concrete making for a unique combination of sculpture and collage.
Joeff Davis
Joeff Davis
This one contains President Nixon with his daughter Patricia Nixon.
Joeff Davis
Finster built a long wheel chair walkway that contains work that was given to him.
Joeff Davis
Joeff Davis
The chapel at Paradise Gardens.
Joeff Davis
The exterior of the chapel contain some of the 46,000 pieces of art that Finster created in his lifetime. Of those tens of thousands of artworks, Paradise Gardens is arguably his masterpiece.
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Joeff Davis
Finster's 1985 "Ninevite" mural, one of his largest, wraps around an exterior wall of his former studio.
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