Biography Of American Artist Andy Davis
by Stephanie Davis Garzoli
The Crafting of an Artist
American Artist Andy Davis was born in Ocala, Florida to Donald and Diane in 1962.With older brother Alan, the family moved to Atlanta in 1967. In high school, Andy dated his future wife, Gerri Stanley. They married in 1983, and stayed married for 32 years. They have two children, Stephanie 28, and Alex 25.
Davis’ first artistic achievement appeared on the ceiling of his childhood bedroom. He used a filled “pop” gun with airplane glue and acrylic paints to create a non-commissioned, unappreciated painting his parents entitled: “My god son what have you done !?” Andy only smiled at his masterpiece.
Davis is recognized as one of the few self-taught American artists to have the skills and success of an American Master. After the unveiling of his first public works, Andy Davis proved that his talent was exceptional than most in his community. As one of his former, trusted clients
“Every once in a blue moon, someone grabs your attention, because their unearthly talents stops you in your tracks. These extraordinary talents simply defy all that we know about humanity…Andy Davis is one such person.”
A devoted self-taught artist/sculptor of the Victorian style of leisure and movement, Andy Davis’ training never went any further than his own rough hands (On his right hand, he was missing the top of his index finger; a story worth telling at another time). His life experiences coupled with his observations of daily life were his classroom, and his eyes, his teacher. He shared the same belief as those he sought to emulate– that art should glorify the Ultimate Creator and His grandeur of the human form.
“I take comfort in knowing that I’m doing what I was born to do; to honor the craft of sculpture by producing the most beautiful and meaningful artwork I possibly can,” He said.
But, not all dreams are realized right away. It took Davis most of his life to discover his true purpose. A series of unique jobs (Once a salesman for Rolls Royce cars and rare diamonds) gave Andy the foundation and knowledge for becoming an entrepreneur. He then started his own sign business, by which he explored his artistic gifts while sustaining his family. He painted murals for several downtown Atlanta businesses, making them staples of the city.
The young boy who developed “ceiling art” was reaching beyond the limits of his imagination.
On a night before the turn of the new millennium, Davis woke up in the middle of the night. He proclaimed a revelation into the night as Gerri awoke next to him. What he knew at that moment is that he wanted to sculpt.
Davis began working on his projects part time. His artwork ranged from small bronze busts, clay portraits, bas relief carved in tiles, to frescos in some of the area’s finest homes and businesses. His work soon caught the attention of interior design companies throughout the southeast, and he began receiving commissions for custom pieces. Andy was also inspired by vehicles with sumptuous designs. He sculpted a series of “psychedelic” small scale models of then newly designed VW Beetle, which appealed to Automobile Art collectors in the Southeast.
He began to research important figures in history, in order to sculpt their likeness. Davis’ first project would be a life-sized bust of Southern author, Margaret Mitchell, and to donate it to the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum.
Mary Rose Taylor, Executive Director of the museum quotes:
“The unveiling of Davis’ sculpture was a marvelous and memorable event. It ranks up there with the Daimler/Benz press conference in Stuttgart, Germany and the museum’s dedication as the high points of this institution’s history.”
Davis’ first public work of art was unveiled in February of 2000, to an audience of over 500 people. It was covered by the local news media and broadcast statewide. He was inspired by a photograph taken in 1946 of a Polish boy orphaned by Nazi Germany, who was given a brand new pair of shoes by an American Red Cross volunteer. In the image, he is clutching the shoes with a smile of sheer joy. Davis created a sculpture of this iconic image for the American Red Cross. It is titled “New Shoes.”
Inspired by another Pulitzer Prize photograph taken by LIFE photographer William “Bill” Beal in 1956, Andy Davis began raising funds to sculpt a life-size bronze representational sculpture to honor Georgia Police Officers killed in the line of duty, unveiled Spring of 2002.
Andy and his family moved to McDonough, GA in 2001, and moved into a historical doctor’s in the McDonough Square. His next largest unveiling took place on September 11th, 2002 outside the Woodruff building on Edgewood Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia (down the street from the Capitol Building) for the United Way Indeed, to honor Georgian victims of the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. The police and fire chiefs of Atlanta lit the eternal flame at its center, along with Mayor Shirley Franklin and other dignitaries, to a crowd of over 5000 people. The event was covered live in metro Atlanta on three local news channels.
Arguably his most renowned work to date is the larger-than-life-size sculpture of Ray Charles, which resides in a music-themed park in the singer’s hometown of Albany, GA. Davis produced a bronze likeness of Charles singing and playing at his grand piano. He allowed blind students to assist him in the sculpting process.
A Vision For the Future
Davis opened a personal gallery and studio in McDonough, GA in an old cotton gin off the McDonough square in 2006. He made it his haven for eight years, while producing such great works as: a painted impressionistic bust of Vincent Van Gogh, life-size likeness of Chick-Fil-A founder Truett Cathy, Hugh Hefner, and the American Patriot, Patrick Henry for the city of McDonough, among others. He also adopted many stray animals as his pets, including a duck, Fiona, and a cat named Karma.
After his unveiling of Patrick Henry on March 29th, 2014, Davis took an interest in an old factory building just off the square. In early 2015, he opened portions of this 20,000 sq. foot space to several local artists, to The Henry Players, and The Giselle DiBlasi School of Ballet, to have a space there. He settled into his new studio within The Hood Street Art Center; His vision to help the arts community in McDonough had begun with a successful start.
In the Spring of 2014, Andy had received a private notice that he was in the running to be the artist to create a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to reside at the state capitol grounds. He began working on a maquette of MLK that year. In early 2015, he was finally selected by Gov. Nathan Deal, and Davis began to work on the life-sized bust of the iconic leader. He was absolutely passionate about this project. He also had been commissioned to create several sculptures of Atlanta Braves baseball players, which would reside at the new home of the Braves, Suntrust Field. He was looking forward to both; he saw these projects to potentially be his greatest accomplishments yet.
His Spirit Continues Creating
Andy liked to feel the wind on his face; He was always a Free Spirit, and a Dreamer. One lovely night in July of 2015, he decided to take a ride. On his way home, he was struck fatally by a drunk driver on Jodeco Road, while waiting at a stop light. Andy was life flighted to Grady Memorial Hospital, where he passed away from fatal head injuries. His family surrounded him, sending him on his way with love and prayers. They honored his request to donate his organs, and now two individuals are able to live because of his Heroism. Even his big blue eyes were recovered, so one day someone will be able to look through them, and know that they are the eyes of American Artist, Andy Davis. His final sculpture was not one we could have imagined– one that is living, breathing, and seeing in someone’s body.
Andy Davis was loved and admired by the entire community. Every person he met, if even for a few moments, was touched by his lovable sense of humor, his candid curiosity, and his gusto for living a fulfilled life. He often looked up into the sky to see the clouds to see what forms took shape:
“We are made of water, and so are clouds… but most important of all is that to enjoy people AND clouds, you have to slow down– stop, and appreciate them.”
-Andy Davis, the Cloudmaker.
Body of Work
- Donated a small bronze bust of MARGARET MITCHELL at the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, unveiled in 2000.
- Bronze representation, “New Shoes,” of the Pulitzer Prize Winning photo, for the American Red Cross, 2001.
- Life-size bronze sculpture of the “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” photo by for the National Museum of Patriotism in Atlanta, GA.
- A life-size bronze representation of LIFE Pulitzer Prize winning photo by William “Bill” Beal, for fallen Georgia police officers in Griffin, GA, Spring of 2002.
- “UNITED INDEED” for United Way, larger-than-life size sculpture for fallen GA victims of 9/11 at the Woodruff Building in Atlanta, GA, 2002.
- A larger than life bronze sculpture of GENERAL LAWRENCE GRIFFIN, founding father of the City of Griffin, Georgia.
- Life-size sculpture of MUSIC LEGEND RAY CHARLES of Georgia. Installed in Albany GA, the birthplace of Ray Charles, 2008.
- 9 Life-size Bronze sculptures of Chick-fil-A founder TRUETT CATHY around the Metropolitan Atlanta area.
- Life-size bronze sculpture of JAMES “RADIO” KENNEDY from the movie RADIO installed 4/18/2006
- Commissioned to create 50 Tucker 48’s from the TACA.
- Bronze sculpture of Preston Tucker of the movie “TUCKER.”
- Sculpture for NASCAR drivers Richard and Kyle Petty at The Victory Junction Camp for Children in Randleman, SC.
- Life-size sculpture commissioned by Chick-fil-A installed at the WinShape Administration Building at Berry College in Rome, GA.
Recent Commissioned Projects
- DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. for the State Capitol grounds, commissioned by Gov. Nathan Deal.
- ATLANTA BRAVES PLAYERS for the new home of the team at Suntrust Field, commissioned by the Atlanta Braves.
Other Notable Works include
- Bronze sculpture for WHIO Radio
- Bronze sculptures for the Manheim Auto Auction
- Bronze sculpture for WSB TV and Radio,
- 7 bronze sculptures at Cox Enterprises headquarters, (Owners of The Atlanta
- Over 80 Private Collection pieces in the Southeast region, including sculpture and paintings.