FINE ART, FOLK ART FESTIVALS THIS WEEKEND IN NORTH GEORGIA
Two arts festivals are scheduled in North Georgia this weekend. Both are Saturday and Sunday, May 26-27. Both charge $5 admission. But in terms of featured work, they are almost polar opposites.
Spring Arts in the Park in Blue Ridge, Ga., has been held for more than four decades in Blue Ridge’s downtown City Park. The festival, open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, benefits the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association.
This arts festival features 175 juried fine art and fine craft exhibitors.
Fine art combined with beautiful mountain scenery draws more than 13,000 visitors into small-town Blue Ridge over festival weekends. Blue Ridge was listed in 2015 as one of the top five art towns in Georgia by the Georgia Council of the Arts and recognized in 2016 and 2017 as one of the Top 10 Fine Craft Towns in America by American Craft Week.
On the other end of the spectrum is Finster Fest, featuring primitive and folk art, much of it by selftaught artists.
It will be held 11 a.m.-5 p. m. in Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, which is just as visually stimulating as the artwork sold there. It’s located at 200 N. Lewis St. in Summerville, Ga.
Finster Fest honors Summerville’s famous folk artist, the Rev. Howard Finster.
Finster was a prolific self-taught artist who produced nearly 47,000 pieces of art before his death in 2001. He saw himself as a sacred artist, recording his visionary prophesies and providing glimpses of a celestial outer space that God revealed to him.
Finster built Paradise Garden, a “rock and junk- encrusted wonderland,” as described by the Paradise Garden Foun- dation. In 1976, as he was using his fingers to apply paint to a refurbished bicycle, Finster noticed that the paint smudge on the tip of his finger looked like a human face. He said a voice spoke to him, saying, “paint sacred art.”
From that point on, he turned out thousands of sermon- laden artworks with subjects ranging from historical characters and pop-culture icons, such as Elvis Presley, to fantasy landscapes and futuristic cities.
Finster also designed record album covers for rock groups such as R.E.M. and Talking Heads, later earning a Record Album Cover of the Year recog- nition from Rolling Stone magazine.
In addition to about 50 artists, there will be live music, barbecue and other Southern foods, a children’s area and the chance to tour Finster’s famous folk-art garden.
Admission benefits the nonprofit Paradise Garden Foundation. The founda- tion oversees restoration and upkeep of Finster’s 2-acre attraction.
Free parking can be found at the Walmart on Highway 27 just north of the garden, with a complimentary shuttle provided. Handicap parking is available on-site.
For more information: 706-808-0800.
Folk artist Howard Finster’s World’s Folk Art Church in Paradise Garden.