- Associated Press - Friday, March 6, 2015

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - A trickle of community support is keeping Michael Davenport in business for the time being, the armless local artist said as he set up his easel Feb. 28 outside Brett’s restaurant in the Athens West shopping center on Atlanta Highway.

On Feb. 25, Davenport’s supplies were taken from in front of the Publix grocery store on Atlanta Highway, where he uses the restroom as he spends the day drawing for passersby at various locations along the thoroughfare. Davenport said he usually leaves his supplies outside the store when he goes in, and was surprised that someone would take the items.

“Who would stoop so low?” he asked in an interview the day after the theft.

The thief got away with a handful of canvases, a new set of markers and some completed sketches, Davenport said.

Since news of the theft was published in the Athens Banner-Herald/OnlineAthens.com, Davenport has been helped by a number of people who’ve stopped by with donations of cash or supplies while he’s been sketching outside Brett’s restaurant. In addition, a friend took him to an art supply store, where they bought a number of items to replace his stolen supplies, Davenport said.

Since the theft, more than a dozen people have emailed the newspaper, and a number of others have called the newspaper office - their voices and words often choked with admiration for Davenport and frustration with his recent misfortune - to find out how they might help the artist. Among the emails sent to the newspaper was one from an Athens native who called Davenport “a great man who deserves to know the community is standing behind him.”

The theft came at a particularly bad time, Davenport said, as he’s been struggling to pay the increasing rent for the local motel room where he and his fiancee have been living. He’s currently in the process of looking for a new place to live, he said.

He’s also been struggling with some medical issues with one of his legs, Davenport said, as the effects of the accident in his teen years that left him without arms have lingered over the years.

Those issues, combined with last week’s theft, have combined to make it difficult for him to complete some of the works he’s been commissioned to do, Davenport admitted.

But for at least the immediate future, he’s back in business, and indicated recently that he’ll be alternating his sketching locales between Brett’s restaurant and the Walmart on Epps Bridge Parkway.

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Information from: Athens Banner-Herald, http://www.onlineathens.com

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