new-york

Howard Finster

Painewebber Gallery

Fourteen years ago, in the God-bless-America bicentennial year of our Lord, the Reverend Howard Finster had a divine vision. Busy at work at one of the countless odd jobs in one of the dozens of trades he mastered over the years to support his mission and family of five, Finster, a sixty-year-old (at the time) Free Will Baptist minister, looked down at a smudge of white paint on one of his fingers, and lo and behold, a human face appeared there. From that little face came a mighty voice, and the voice spoke to Finster and said to him, “Paint sacred art.” It seems that after forty-five years of spreading the word of the Lord—pastoring eight churches and delivering his fire-and-brimstone sermons, Finster’s good work was far from done.

Visionary (religious) eccentrics are hardly a new phenomenon. In fact, their efforts constitute a richly varied artistic tradition. Though religious fanaticism

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