Case studies of folk art environments: Simon Rodia's "Watts Towers" and Reverend Howard Finster's "Paradise Garden" (California, Georgia)
Minar, Rena Virginia
Master of Arts
The study of folk art, or self-taught art, has been riddled with problems. Scholars have not agreed on terms or definitions, and research has been sporadic. Folk art environments, large decorated sites at homes or businesses, cause further problems because these sites define space. Simon Rodia built The Watts Towers in Los Angeles, and no one knows why he built the site or why he later abruptly abandoned it. The environment he built consists of three tall spires and several other smaller structures, all covered with colorful tile mosaic. Reverend Howard Finster created Paradise Garden just outside Pennville, Georgia as a means to communicate the teachings of God. The environment, a result of religious visions, contains hundreds of sculptures and describes an area of over seven acres. These sites represent two types of folk art environments: systematic and random.