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Reverend Albert Wagner in his home studio, Photo by Linda Kangas

Reverend Albert Wagner


Born in 1924 in Bassett, Arkansas, Albert Wagner went to work in the cotton fields as a water carrier for the pickers when he was ten years old. In 1941 at the age of 17, he moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as a dishwasher before starting his own furniture moving company. Years later, while cleaning his basement in preparation for his fiftieth birthday celebration, he noticed some paint spatters on a piece of wood and was suddenly overwhelmed with memories of his childhood and with inspiration for works of art. In the years that followed he made hundreds of paintings and sculptures to "get the Word out."

Turning his house on Cleveland's east side into an environment he called "The People Love People House of God," the Reverend Albert Wagner decorated the outside of the building with found objects. He crammed the interior with enormous sculptures around which he counseled members of his small, informal congregation, which met regularly at a nearby store-front church. Albert worked in his home studio creating over 3,000 paintings and sculptures for 32 years, until his death on September 1, 2006 at age 82.

"All my life I wanted to paint. I just didn't know how. God gives directions and you have to follow them." –Reverend Albert Wagner