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John F. Turner research material on Howard Finster, circa 1928-2015, bulk bulk 1978-1990

Turner, John F.

Collection Information

Size: 6.9 Linear feet

Summary: The John F. Turner collection of research material on visionary self-taught artist Howard Finster measures 6.9 linear feet and dates from circa 1928 to 2015, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1978 to 1990. John Turner is a California-based curator who compiled this collection in preparation for his book Howard Finster: Man of Visions (1989). Found within the collection are correspondence; numerous interviews with Finster and Finster family members, curators and historians, collectors, and artists; draft manuscripts and research notes; compiled research files on other topics; printed materials and commercial broadcast video recordings; and photographic material, including polaroids annotated by Finster. There is also one series of Howard Finster's papers that include writings by Finster, sound and video recordings of Finster exhibitions and talks by Finster related to those exhibitions, recordings of other speaking engagements, sermons, and other events, a scattering of personal business records that includes a ledger and price list of artwork, and artwork.
Correspondence mostly consists of letters to John Turner from Howard Finster and Finster family members, folklorist Alan Jabbour, Clay Lancaster, Andy Nasisse, and others. There are also letters to Howard Finster from miscellaneous correspondents.
Numerous interviews with and about Howard Finster are found on 47 sound cassettes, and one partial transcript. In addition to interviews conducted by Turner, there are interviews with Finster conducted by Liza Kirwin and Willem Volkerz. Most of the interviews are with others about Finster, including family members, collectors, curators and art historians, and other artists. Interviewees include Jim and Beth Arient, Jeffrey Camp, Eleanor Dickinson, Rosa Esman, Beverly and Pauline Finster, Allen Ginsberg, Lynda Hartigan, Herbert Waide Hemphill, Alan Jabbour, Phyllis Kind, Jim Nutt, and others.
Writings consist of Turner's research notebooks and a typescript draft for his book Howard Finster: Man of Visions. There are some curator's statements and loose notes possibly written by others. Research files include printed material compiled by John Turner on various artists and subjects not directly related to Finster, except for bibliographies.
Papers and other materials created by Howard Finster are arranged into one separate series. These include writings; exhibition files, including video and sound recordings; personal business records; artwork, including album covers and posters; and sound recordings of Finster's public and private talks, sermons, and events. Many of the sound recordings were recorded by Finster himself.
Printed material consists of newspaper and magazine clippings about Howard Finster, exhibition catalogs, announcements, magazines, and art periodicals. There are also 2 videocassettes of commercially released television appearances and music videos.
Photographic material includes photographs, slides, negatives, and transparencies of Howard Finster and his artwork. There are images of Finster and his family, artwork, exhibitions, openings, and events. Some of the images are annotated by Finster.

Biographical/Historical Note

John F. Turner is a writer and curator who lives in California. Turner has written books on photography and folk art and is an adjunct curator at the San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum. He has also worked for NBC news and documented the lives of folk artists for many years.


The John F. Turner research material on Howard Finster was donated by John F. Turner in 1987 and 2016.

Related Materials

Language Note

Collection is in English.