While fine art may leave your tots bored to tears, folk art may just be the match to ignite a lifetime love of art in your kiddos. Luckily for us, Georgia has nearly as many renowned folk artists as Tennessee has moonshiners, so get out your maps and load up the car. It’s time for a folk art road trip! The best part? Get this right and your kids will spend a month’s worth of afternoons making their own folk art in their playroom. Read on to find out where to go to see some of Georgia’s finest folk art, and how to turn your littles loose to make it themselves.


A Funky Garden: Finster’s Paradise Garden
At Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of found objects, reclaimed materials, paintings, and murals spread out over the maze of buildings, sculptures, and displays. Possibly the most well-known of Georgia’s folk artists, Howard Finster painted 47,000 works and turned an eclectic landscape into a pop icon.

Word to the Wise: While now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Paradise Garden is anything but stodgy and sterile. Go on a day that you and the kids can enjoy being outside, wear walking shoes, and be prepared for the religious iconography.

Details: Finster’s Paradise Garden, 200 N. Lewis Street, Summerville, Georgia 30747, 706.808.0800, Tuesday to Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sundays 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adult $5.00, Kids under 12 free


The High Museum: Nellie Mae Rowe and Other Folk Artists
While her home was dismantled years ago and a hotel now stands in its place, Nellie’s Playhouse, as the artist referred to her home in Vinings, was filled with her chewing gum creations, sock dolls, and wild paintings of “varmints” and “spirits.” Take the kiddos to see her current exhibit at the High Museum, then head over to Vinings to see if you can pinpoint where her home once stood just west of the railroad on Paces Ferry Road.

Hot Tip: Hit the High on Toddler Thursdays for additional art-based lessons and activities crafted just for your kids.

Details: The High Museum, 1280 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, 404.733.4400, Children under 6 free, $20 adults


Scott’s Antique Market: Local Artists and Creative Folks
Need to kill two birds with one stone? Head to Scott’s to find that perfect end table, and while you’re there, take the kids on a folk art scavenger hunt in the outdoor lanes of the South Building. You’ll find a wide assortment of self-taught artists using reclaimed materials, and you might even pick up a few supplies for your own folk art project, as well.

Details: Scott Antique Market, 3650 Jonesboro Road SE, Atlanta, GA 30354, 404. 361.2000, Held the second weekend of every month, Click here for tips on taking the littles to Scott’s with you


OK Cafe: Local Artists and a Life-Sized Money Tree
While most people know that OK Cafe is the place to go for Atlanta’s best diner comfort food, anyone who’s been there will also be able to tell you as much about the artwork as the apple pie. Filled with folk art from native Georgians, including a life-sized money tree in the back dining room, the OK Cafe will fill your bellies with good food while quenching your thirst for folk art.


Your Own Toy Room: Turn Playroom Cast-offs into Masterpieces
We know it’s there. At the bottom of every toy chest lay a smattering of misfit toys. You know what we’re talking about: Barbie accessories so small the CIA couldn’t keep up with them, Legos from kits long abandoned, pieces of string, and even the vial of glitter you’ve lived in fear of the kids discovering. Instead of tossing these treasures out with the trash, why not put them in a bin of “found objects,” give the kiddos a canvas and some Mod Podge, and start creating! While you’re at it, go ahead and throw those old prom earrings into the bin with the glitter. It’s time.

Hot Tip: Be sure to have plenty of sponges, paintbrushes, and sprayable glue nearby so that little hands don’t have to rely on you to secure their decoupage onto their canvas for them.

Does your family enjoy folk art? Where do you enjoy art in Atlanta? Tell us in the comments section below!

—Shelley Massey

Images courtesy of Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens via Facebook, Scott Antique Markets via Facebook, High Museum of Art via Facebook, Jay N. via YelpCreative Commons via Flickr and the author