Ga. county buys folk artist's 'Paradise Garden'

DORIE TURNER

ATLANTA (AP) — A northwestern Georgia county has bought the garden where folk artist Howard Finster held court for tourists and art lovers from around the world.

The bicycle repairman and preacher turned to art to spread the word of God and was considered the grandfather of the American folk art movement.

He started building the garden in 1961 and filled it with quirky mosaics, sculptures and buildings. It was featured in the 1983 R.E.M video for "Radio Free Europe."

Jordan Poole with the Paradise Garden Foundation said Thursday that Chattooga County used private donations and grant money to buy the small plot for $125,000.

The foundation will continue to restore the garden, which has fallen into disrepair since Finster died in 2001.