Our 5K and the Andy Davis Gallery & Studios Ribbon Cutting event with Henry County Chamber of Commerce was covered on the front page of the Henry Daily Herald this week! Thank you all who came and participated!
Artist’s undying dream
By Nhi Ho for the Henry Herald
The Henry County Chamber of Commerce was also present for the official ribbon cutting of Hood Street Art Center (HSAC), 136 Hood Street, in downtown McDonough, cementing Hood Street as an official establishment of McDonough and a center for the arts in all forms. The event also included the naming ceremony for the Andy Davis Gallery and Studios.
Andy Davis originally worked out of his gallery and studio housed in what was formerly was cotton gin on Macon Street. After seven years there, Andy Davis began looking for another location towards the end of 2014 and found the Hood Street building. Previous tenants of the building included a church and before that, a furniture store.
Hood Street’s marketing and creative director Stephanie Davis-Garzoli said, “The people who owned the building had an agreement with my dad that he could use the space. And the idea was that my father, once he finished major commission of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sculpture that would have been in the Capitol, an Atlanta Braves commission was another one that he had in the works before he passed away. These were going to help fund the HSAC. He was going to buy the building essentially. He had a handshake agreement with everyone he knew.”
Andy Davis was commissioned to sculpt a life-size bronze statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for Liberty Plaza. Governor Nathan Deal said his death was not only a tragedy for McDonough and Henry County but also a tragedy for the state.
Davis-Garzoli said, “He never worked on contracts or anything. He was very well established in the community as an artist. His funeral, over 350 people showed up, so he was very influential.”
The funeral for Andy Davis was more a celebration of his life. The hundreds of people who came were not only from all over Georgia, but all over the country. There were so many people in attendance that the Davis family live streamed the service from the performing arts center.
Chick-fil-A even donated and catered the food as the Atlanta business had an ongoing relationship with Andy Davis from the commissions of the Truett Cathy statues.
“He worked very closely with the Cathy family and had a lot of ideas for future statues for them,” Davis-Garzoli said.
In early 2015 around January/February, Andy Davis began setting up the studio space inside the Hood Street building and he invited the Giselle di Blasi ballet school and the Henry Players to be a part of it. He handpicked six to seven artists that he wanted represented in the HSAC. Andy Davis started building the white box studios himself and the back space of the building was where he worked on his art and sculptures.
“So that’s the bare bones beginning,” Davis-Garzoli said. “And his plan was to turn this into a community center where everyone can come together to experience the arts in a multitude of ways: through visual arts, through dance performance. He had a vision of a community garden, yoga classes, movie nights where we could project movies and have them playing in the back space. He had a ton of ideas.”
By the spring, Andy Davis had completed painting the floors and made the walls for the gallery. Then the Henry Players started coming in and building their space.
“Then in July, he was struck by a car, he was on a motorcycle,” Davis-Garzoli said.
On July 10, 2015, Andy Davis was struck by a pickup truck while riding his motorcycle on Jodeco Road and I-75. Andy Davis later died on July 12 from injuries sustained in the crash.
“When we — my brother, myself, my husband — we all came back home when he was in the accident and we found out about it and from that point on, we’ve been here ever since,” Davis-Garzoli said. “I was in New York City with my husband. He was actually in LA working with his band. Alex was at school at Kennesaw and he was about to move into his own place. Then we all decided to come home, to my mom’s. From that point, we decided to continue the Hood Street and honor his vision and his memory the best that we could.”
Other notable commissions that Andy Davis did was the lighthouse sculpture for Phoenix House to matches the lighthouse building that housed the resource center for Family Promise of NewRock in Conyers.
Davis-Garzoli said, “my dad felt really passionately about that project.”
HSAC owner Gerri Davis said of her late husband, “Andy called himself the Cloud maker. When he was young, he wanted to make the clouds like he saw in the sky. And as he grew up and became a sculptor, his pieces of art he sculpted were those “clouds.”
Andy Davis’ dream of making a place where local artists could come and exhibit their talents became what HSAC is today. He took an old warehouse and began transforming it into a venue for the arts in all forms: painting, pottery, dancing to music and theater.
“Unfortunately he was not able to see HSAC get to the level it is now, but I know he’s watching from above and is smiling and is happy with all the clouds that he has made in the smiles of all those who love and visit HSAC,” Gerri Davis said.
Associate director Beth Healy said that the sky is the limit for fun and artistic events at Hood Street.
“We would like to offer a variety of regularly scheduled art classes of all types and we are interested in creative event ideas for the general public to attend as well: bachelorette art parties, showers, couples dance lessons, even business meetings – a much better atmosphere than a hotel conference room!” Healy said. Poetry and book readings, motivational speakers, as long as their ideas are creatively and/or artistically-based; performance art and art installations; video and photography shoot location; live music venue, like the recent Live Music Line Up music event in February. And we will be hosting a free 2 hour Wix Workshop this Wednesday, March 8, where people can register and come learn how to build their own website.”
For more information on Hood Street Art Center or to make donations to HSAC, contact email Beth Healy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678-591-7744.