The Rev. Albert Wagner, 82, a Pentecostal minister and folk artist known for his paintings and sculptures of figures in the Bible, died Sept. 1 at South Pointe Hospital in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. The apparent cause was heart failure, family members told the Associated Press.
Wagner never studied art, but got interested in being an artist in 1974 when he was painting the interior of his house for his 50th birthday. He noticed paint-can rings on the board where he left open buckets.
"I saw figures," he recalled in a 1998 interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It was the power of God. He spoke to me through that board."
Some of his works, with titles such as "Moses Parting the Red Sea" and "Madonna," a black-and-white painting of the Blessed Virgin, show his interest in religious themes and his icon-like style.
Others show people trying to resolve their differences. "Holding Onto Bad Memories" shows a man who seems to be apologizing to a resistant woman. Wagner said in interviews that he had fathered 20 children with three women.
His art has been exhibited in galleries around Ohio, as well as in Maryland and New York.
Born in 1924 in Bassett, Ark., the son of sharecroppers, Wagner quit school before the eighth grade and eventually settled in Ohio. He became a Pentecostal minister in 1992 and started a church, the People Love People House of God, in the basement of his house.