Free Reverend Howard Finster folk art exhibition through Jan. 15

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Currently on view at The Tennessee State Museum in Nashville is a special exhibit featuring the work of the late folk artist Howard Finster.

The exhibition, “Stranger in Paradise: The Works of Reverend Howard Finster,” is free and on exhibit in the museum’s Changing Galleries.

Elvis as an Angel  “Elvis as an Angel,” tractor enamel on wood, by Reverend Howard Finster, is one of the artist’s many folk art creations on display in the “Stranger in Paradise” exhibition. Photo courtesy The  Tennessee State Museum.

Finster was one of America’s most widely known and prolific self-taught artists, creating more than 46,000 pieces of art before his death in 2001.

From 1976 on, he focused on producing sermon-laden artworks with subjects ranging from historical characters and popular culture icons like Elvis Presley to evangelistic fantasy landscapes and futuristic cities. The exhibit includes “Elvis Presley as an Angel” and “Elvis,” both created with tractor enamel on wood.

Finster’s preaching experience and showman-like personality helped shape his public persona and ever-increasing celebrity. To spread his vision beyond the Esquire-dubbed “Paradise Garden,” Finster’s roadside tribute to inventors, originally named “Plant Farm Museum,” Finster began to design record album covers for rock groups such as R.E.M. and Talking Heads. Interviews, films, along with his legendary appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson further advanced his career.

A 152-page hardcover, full color catalog with essays by Jim Arient, N.J. Girardot, Phyllis Kind, and exhibition curator Glen C. Davies, will be sold along with other folk art items in the “Paradise Garden” Gift Shop. After viewing the exhibition, visitors will have the opportunity shop in the special store which will only be open during the run of the exhibit.

The free exhibit runs through Jan. 15, 2012. For more information on the exhibit, contact Mary Skinner at 615-253-0103.

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