Efforts are underway in Henry County to create a sculpture of Patrick Henry in time for the county's 190th anniversary celebration.
By Jason A. Smith
A nationally recognized, local artist is in the midst of his latest project, designed to put the likeness of Henry County's namesake on display.
In a county named for the man who gave the nation one of its most patriotic sayings -- "Give me liberty, or give me death" -- there are only a few other recognitions referencing the patriot. His quote does exist on a plaque near the county's courthouse, and there also is an alternative high school bearing his name.
Master sculptor Andy Davis, owner of the Andy Davis Gallery and Studio in McDonough, is the artist county commissioners have selected to create a work they hope will boost Henry's image in the county. Davis already has begun work on a sculpture of the American Revolutionary-era patriot. It will be a part of the county's celebration of its 190th anniversary this year. The county was founded in 1821.
Davis said, although he began building the sculpture about a week ago, the project has been in the back of his mind for several years. "A long time ago, when I moved to Henry County, I figured it would be a good fit," he said.
"Patrick Henry was a great patriot, and defender of American liberties," he said. "The first 10 constitutional amendments exist because of Patrick Henry. He felt that the constitution needed to go further in protecting the rights and liberties of Americans."
Davis' past works include sculptures of singer, Ray Charles, and Playboy Magazine founder, Hugh Hefner.
The Patrick Henry sculpture, upon completion, will stand nearly seven feet tall, Davis said. "The idea is to put it somewhere near the McDonough Square," he said, adding that the sculpture's cost is an estimated $95,000. "By the time the funds are finished being raised, the sculpture will be completed."
Funding for the endeavor will come primarily through private contributions and sponsorships, according to Davis. "A sculpture like that would probably have a value of $150,000 to $200,000, so it's a good deal," he said.
Davis also has established the Patrick Henry Sculpture Board, to assist with the project. Board members, he said, include Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis, Tax Commissioner David Curry, Probate Judge Kelley Powell, McDonough Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Vincent, Stockbridge Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Gilbert, County Historian Gene Morris, architect Todd Ernst, and Davis.
"Those that can, are going to help steer the project to completion, and help with the capital campaign," the artist said. "Just by word of mouth, people have already started making contributions. People that make contributions are going to receive a certificate of participation. Depending on the level of sponsorship, they will also receive a small bust of Patrick Henry, made and signed by the artist."
Davis said local high school art students will be invited to view the progress of the sculpture, and to participate in its creation.
A local, non-profit organization, Henry First, will act as a facilitator to distribute tax-deductible contributions for the sculpture project. County Attorney LaTonya Wiley secured approval from the Henry County Board of Commissioners, Monday, to create an executive committee for Henry First.
The committee consists of individuals in five local government positions, including county manager, finance director, planning and zoning director, social services division director, public works director. Wiley said the Patrick Henry sculpture, which will be completed in 12 to 18 months, is a good vehicle for Henry First to conduct its charitable efforts. "No county funds, whatsoever, will be used for this project," Wiley said. "It's strictly for donations."
Davis added that sponsors of the project will be listed on a plaque accompanying the finished work. For more information, visit the Patrick Henry Historical Sculpture page at www.facebook.com. To reach Henry First, call (770) 288-6000.