Paradise Garden, as the site was dubbed in 1975 by Esquire Magazine, is an outdoor art installation that celebrates the inventions of mankind and consists of a series of miniature mountains made of cement and encrusted with thousands of found objects. The High Museum of Art declared that Paradise Garden is Finster’s ultimate work.
The restoration project, spearheaded by the Chattooga County Commissioner, aims to rejuvenate Paradise Garden and make it a destination for cultural tourists and an anchor of the local economy.
Paradise Garden is one of eight rural arts projects receiving grants from ArtPlace, a new national collaboration of 11 major national and regional foundations, six of the nation’s largest banks, and eight federal agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S. To date, ArtPlace has raised almost $50 million to work alongside federal and local governments to transform communities through strategic investments in the arts.
"Across the country, our communities are using the arts to help shape their social, physical, and economic characters," said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. "In rural settings, where people live far apart from one another, the arts can offer an opportunity to come together and share a common experience. It is wonderful that ArtPlace and its funders have recognized this work and invested in it so generously."
“Chattooga County is honored to be a recipient of an ArtPlace America Grant Award,” said Chattooga County Sole Commissioner Jason Winters. “In partnership with the Paradise Garden Foundation, this grant will allow us to expedite our work at the Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden art environment as this site becomes a ‘go-to’ location for Folk Art enthusiasts from around the country. Our goal is to restore the Garden to serve as a social, cultural, educational and artistic nexus for the benefit of Chattooga County and the Northwest Georgia region. “
Other rural communities receiving the nod from ArtPlace include Cumberland, Kentucky; Eastport, Maine; and Sauk County, Wisconsin. In Minot, North Dakota, an ArtPlace grant will support the creation of a mixed-use arts facility that will help the town recover from a devastating 2011 flood by bringing new vibrancy to the city’s historic downtown.
“Creative placemaking isn’t just for cities,” explained Coletta. “Paradise Garden demonstrates that smart investments in art, design and culture as part of a larger portfolio of revitalization strategies can change the trajectory of communities and increase economic opportunities for people, whether the setting is rural or urban.”
ArtPlace received almost 2200 letters of inquiry from organizations seeking a portion of the $15.4 million available for grants in this cycle. Inquiries came from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands.