Andrew Sabori painted murals of rock-n-roll artists Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison when they were still up-and-comers playing in The Fillmore in San Francisco. His art has hung in The Apollo Theater and The Julliard School. He spent years gracing the walls of Las Vegas casinos with his painted scenery.
Now, he's taking on Covington. For the next several weeks, he'll be in Plain Nuts painting murals of historic Covington scenes dating from the 1800s, including the former railroad depot, the old courthouse which burned down and the old music hall and Masonic hall which were adjacent on the square.
Sabori, 64, is a native of San Francisco, but like so many visitors to Covington he fell in love with the city. And like many non-natives, he first learned of the town while watching "In the Heat of the Night."
"We needed to be close to Atlanta but didn't want to live in the city. I saw Covington on the bottom of the screen. We looked it up and we came here to see what it was like," said Roberta, Sabori's wife.
"I fell in love with the town," he said.
After finding a house through Coldwell Banker Gerri Murphy Realty, the couple walked over to Plain Nuts for lunch where they saw barren light blue walls. Sabori asked owner Jim Williamson what he thought about having murals painted on the restaurant's walls. Williamson thought that sounded perfect.
He had been trying to find the right look for his popular soup, salad and sandwich shop, but he couldn't find the right fit; even the interior designers he consulted came up empty.
"Nothing jived until he walked in," Williamson said. "Out of the blue, before he had even moved here, he made the suggestion. I went to his website (andrew-sabori.com) and was really impressed."
The two worked out an arrangement. Williamson pays for materials and provides free meals, while Sabori creates beautiful artwork and establishes his name in a new community. Sabori said he's already been hired by a few residents to create paintings.
Art has always come easy to Sabori. At the age of 8, he began painting and sketching; it was just natural.
"I was not very good at sports," Sabori said and laughed, when asked why he started painting. "I picked up books of famous artists like Van Gogh, Renoir and Rafael. I started recreating some of their works and thought ‘I can do this.'"
He and Roberta previously lived in Augusta for six years and painted murals for several of the surrounding small towns, which wanted to make a good impression for the travels of the Olympic torch.
After spending years in New York, where Sabori said people live up to their rude reputation, and in Las Vegas, where there's only sand, the climate of north Georgia was a perfect fit. The couple picked a peaceful home near the intersection of Ga. highways 36 and 212.
Sabori wanted to show off the work which had only been seen by immigrants and island workers. His timing was perfect as the National Archives in Atlanta is hosting an exhibit called "The Immigrants," which is a tribute to America's past. The 90-foot wide, 5-foot high mural will be one of the main attractions for the exhibit, which is set for July 2012.
Until then, he'll continue to beautify Covington's businesses and homes.