Photo by Heather Middleton
By Jason A. Smith
Henry County marked a milestone, with a work of art in honor of its namesake.
A clay-model bust of Patrick Henry was unveiled, Monday, in celebration of the county's 190th birthday, which was Sunday. Guests gathered at the Henry County Administration Building to view the model for the first time.
Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis described the bust as "absolutely spectacular. It is going to be such a wonderful asset to Henry County," she said.
The sculpture, she said, is being created by Andy Davis, owner of the Andy Davis Gallery and Studio in McDonough. Mathis praised Davis for his vision in creating the piece.
"To have an artist of his stature, and his magnitude, to provide a gift like this to our county ... I'm just in awe that we're going to have something like this right here in Henry County," said Mathis.
The work -- which when completed will be a 6-foot, 10-inch, full-body sculpture -- will feature Patrick Henry standing with his hand on the back of a chair. It will be displayed in the McDonough Square. It will cost approximately $90,000, according to county spokesperson, Julie Hoover-Ernst.
"Henry County is very excited about having this talented sculptor, to commemorate this moment in our history," Hoover-Ernst said. "It is a beautiful piece of art, that generations to come will be able to enjoy."
Davis' past work includes sculptures of author, Margaret Mitchell, and singer, Ray Charles. The sculpture of Patrick Henry, said the artist, has gone as well as he expected.
"It takes a lot of energy to get any sort of project started, naturally," said Davis. "The progression of the sculpture has just come along very smoothly."
In April, he said the Patrick Henry project had been on his to-do list 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. 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 established the Patrick Henry Sculpture Board, to assist with the project. Board members, he said in April, include Chairman 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.
A local, non-profit organization, Henry First, is serving as a facilitator to distribute tax-deductible contributions for the sculpture project. County Attorney LaTonya Wiley secured approval, in April, from the Henry County Board of Commissioners, 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, in April, said the Patrick Henry sculpture 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.