Lasters move to Paradise…

(Don the Camera Guy, C.M., Grace Kelly, and Randy Mason at the Art Car Parade, 2004)

Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens, in Summerville, GA  that is.

C.M., Grace Kelly, and little Ruby are going to do an artist in residence at Paradise Gardens this spring and summer. Charles credits the late folk art great, Howard Finster, with saving both his soul and his life. 
(Paradise Gardens, 2003)

Although both C.M. and Grace Kelly Laster were both artists from an early age in rural Kentucky, they each had also struggled in their young life with family dysfunction,leading to their own alcohol and drug addiction. In 1993, after transplanting himself to the inner city of Chicago, C.M. had a personal awakening and decided to get clean. 
Newly sober, he helped to found the Recycled Art Project, a “trash into treasure” art program for inner-city youth. Friend Grace Kelly, also newly sober, moved up to Chicago to help, and while looking through the trash for art supplies for the kids, they fell in love over a dumpster! They soon decided to marry and move back to Kentucky in search of their dreams. After the return to country living,they continued teaching art and making art themselves as therapy and expression, all the while doing various jobs to make their way. Rural living was both a great blessing and a hardship. And family dysfunction continued to be a struggle in spite of their own sobriety. 
Soon after moving back to Kentucky, they met folk artist Rev. Howard Finster who had a major impact on the direction of their lives and work. Mentoring them , he encouraged them to “get on the alter” and make art their ministry and life’s work. After the drug overdose death of C.M.’s brother in 1996, they became further committed to using their art to teach people about the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse, and the healing power of God’s love. Since then, showing and selling their artwork, they have watched it grow and reach people all over the world. A blessing for which they are truly thankful to God. 
(Elvis and Priscilla by CM Laster)

Their artwork covers a wide range of subjects, from the Bible to Elvis. Music,humor, nature ,politics,addictions and vices, memories, dreams, and visions all find their way into their work according to their inspiration. Many pieces include words, warnings, poems and inspirational messages. Their art materials vary, as they use whatever they can find for free or cheap to recycle into art. Recently as a testament of faith to becoming fulltime art ministers, they took the remaining scrap material from C.M.’s last job in the family construction business and used it to create an art car, “the Laster Blasters” Rockin’ Holy Roller” dedicated to Jesus and the great joy of gospel music. They continue to do Recycled Art in a variety of settings and take their art car to art shows and events, sharing their hope and vision for a better world.
(Paradise Gardens, 2003)

A word about Howard Finster 
We met folk artist Rev. Howard Finster at a time of trouble and confusion in our personal lives. He was instrumental in encouraging us to continue with our art, and has provided us with the spiritual guidance we needed to carry on after struggles and tragedies. He asked us to help him with important projects that he, at age 84 was too frail to carry on himself, and we have gladly helped him to continue his work for God. Our own personal rewards from doing so have been truly life changing. Take time to learn about Howard’s life; he has inspired a lot of people for God through his preaching and art, and changed the art world as we know it.
(all info from their web postings)