Folk art sculptures by Howard Finster and Reuben Aaron Miller

Two works:

Howard Finster (1916-2001)
"Let me say I love you," 1990
Painted wood, paper, ink pen
Signed and dated verso: Howard Finster / April 4. 1990 / 12:38: Past Midnight [cipher]; further marked in pencil to base: Pennville, Ga / Rev. Howard Finster / 1990; presumably in another hand
5.75" H x 8.75: W x 3.75" D

Reuben Aaron Miller (1912-2006)
"Lord Love You," 1992
Polychrome painted metal, wood
Marked in pencil to base: Gainsville, Ga / Reuben A. Miller / 1992
10.75" H x 7.625" W x 3.375" D

2 pieces

  • Provenance: The Estate of Eleanor Koffler
  • Notes: Howard Finster, American folk artist and Baptist pastor, began his art career when he was 60 years old. Born in Alabama in 1916, Finster was raised in a Baptist household and gave his first sermon as a teenager. Themes from his Christian faith, coupled with Southern storytelling traditions, later suffused many of Howard Finster's prints. Indeed, it's said a vision inspired the first of many paintings by Howard Finster, and from then until his death in 2001, he made thousands of art pieces. Popular paintings by Howard Finster often incorporate bold images with Bible verses using only enamel paint and plywood cut into outlines of angels or animals. Yet, Howard Finster's sculptures were his crowning achievements; the largest, Paradise Garden, is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Reuben Aaron or R. A. Miller, a resident of Rabbittown, GA, an unincorporated community north of Gainesville, was one of Georgia's enduring self-taught artists, noted for his "whirligigs," metal cutout figures, and drawings, which typically feature animal or human figures and short inspirational messages.
    Born on July 22, 1912, on the property where he lived for most of his life, R A Miller worked in cotton mills, farmed, and served as a preacher for the Free Will Baptist Church. When chronic eye problems began to limit Miller's activities, he started making whirligigs to pass the time. Although Miller's early whirligigs sometimes featured mechanical figures, most were decorated with flat animal or human shapes, cut from tin and painted in enamel. By the mid-1980s Miller's yard was a spectacle—a hilltop field of hundreds of spinning windmills. His animated environment attracted frequent visitors, including Athens, GA rock group R.E.M., who in 1984, with painter and filmmaker James Herbert, filmed a twenty-minute video, Left of Reckoning, on Miller's hilltop.
    After folk-art dealers and collectors began to purchase Miller's inexpensive whirligigs in large quantities, the artist started to make and sell cutout figures independent of the whirligigs. The best of Miller's tin cutouts are gracefully abstracted and animated in gesture. His animal images range from bluebirds, chickens, pigs, and snakes to a variety of dinosaur types, and human figures including red devils, angels, such American cultural icons as Uncle Sam and Elvis Presley, and less well-defined characters that sport hats, cigars, or red claws.
    Miller's work has been included in such exhibitions as "Outside the Mainstream: Folk Art in Our Time" at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (1988) and "Passionate Visions of the American South" at the New Orleans Museum of Art in Louisiana (October 1993-January 1994). Further exhibitions, the inclusion of his work in museums' permanent collections, and articles in such international publications as Raw Vision have contributed to Miller's status as an elder statesman among Georgia's self-taught artists.
    In 2004 Miller lost his sight to an eye infection and moved to a nursing home in Commerce, where he died in March 2006. The month before his death, an exhibition of his work entitled "R. A. Miller: A Tribute" opened at the Brenau University Galleries.
    Reference: DeLorme, Harry. "R. A. Miller." New Georgia Encyclopedia, last modified Nov 2, 2018. https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/r-a-miller-1912-2006/
  • Condition: Each overall good condition with dust accumulation, scattered light scuffs, light scratches, and small nicks commensurate with age. The first with slight lifting of paper to one corner, and scattered fading to ink on bird element. The second with light marks to wood base at rear.

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