Howard Finster and Paradise Garden

A quick trip to Chattanooga with an unexpected detour at this fascinating place in rural Georgia


We traveled last week for first time this year. It was a quick trip down to Chattanooga to spend some time with my parter’s sister, brother-in-law, and our niece. We had a great time out hiking in the mountains, and eating some of the best chicken wings I’ve ever had.

Before heading back to Chattanooga, my brother-in-law suggested we stop at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in nearby Summerville, Georgia. Finster was a fascinating and prolific artist who found some success in the art world later in life after claiming to receive a message from God in 1976 to create 5000 “sacred works” at the age of 59. He ended up going on to produce nearly 47,000 works of art before his death in 2001!

I happened to catch five minutes of a documentary that they play on a loop during the tour of the property. In the documentary Kieth Haring visited the property late in his life after developing a relationship with Finster. There is even a piece of Haring’s own work on the property today (pictured below), but I’m not exactly sure how that came to be. REM also shot one of their music videos here in the too!

Here are some random photos I shot on my phone during our visit. I’m horrible at taking photos. I should remember to try and do a better job snapping photos for posts like this in the future. This place is definitely worth a detour if you find yourself traveling through north Georgia!

The iconic sanctuary, church steeple is the first thing you see
One of many hand-painted signs
The Kieth Haring sculpture I mentioned earlier
Inside the mirror tree house
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