P.O. Box 14

Lanesboro MN 55949

(507) 467-0102

Over 15 years experience in small town arts and community development, national speaker on rural arts issues and creativity.


Ford Motor Company Commitment to Kids Award winner.

2000 Founder, Kids Philosophy Slam, Lanesboro, Minnesota.

2000 Created the Lanesboro Artist Residency Program and Public Art Lanesboro.

1990-98 Founder, New York Mills Arts Retreat and Regional Cultural Center, a non profit organization with an annual budget of $150,000. The Center has been recognized as a national prototype for the role of the arts in rural community development. From the Centers opening in 1992 through 1998, 17 new businesses located in New York Mills, increasing jobs 40%.

1997 Developed New York Mills Sculpture Park, a cornerstone of the New York Mills Industrial Park. Land donated by the city. The Park includes an 800 foot sculpture fence and the worlds largest art tractor.

1996 Cultural Center tractor logo painted on New York Mills Water Tower.

1996 New York Mills listed as one of top five "Culturally Cool" small towns by USA Today Weekend Magazine.

1995 New York Mills listed in The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America.

1993 Received Sally Ordway Irvine Award For Vision.

1993 Received New York Mills Vision Award "For making believers out of nonbelievers."

1993 Founded the Great American Think-Off, a national philosophy competition, which has received world-wide attention and was televised live on CSPAN in 1998 and covered by the Today Show, NY Times and National Public Radio.

1993 Created the annual New York Mills Music and Film Festival.

1992 Developed the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center and managed the $240,000 renovation of a historical building on Main Street.

1990 Created the New York Mills Arts Retreat. This program annually engages 8 national and international artists in residence in the New York Mills area schools.


1961- Born in New York City.

1971- Interest in paint-by-numbers ends at age ten when he mistakenly confuses a glass of paint thinner for a glass of milk.

1979 - Graduates from high school in Goshen, Indiana. Enters Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

1980 - Designs infant bedside table for neonatal intensive care unit at a childrenís hospital, which was approved for production. His presentation gets a "C" grade. Switches major to fine arts!

1982 - Quits art school to deliver pizzas. Week one: His life is threatened. Week two: His car is stolen. Week three: He is robbed at knife point. Week four: He returns to college.

1984 - Graduates from Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Dreams of living on a farm in rural Minnesota. Starts house painting business to accumulate cash needed to purchase farm.

1987 - Saves $10,000 painting houses and finds a farm near New York Mills that has been abandoned for twenty years and moves in. Learns to live with woodchucks, woodpeckers, other birds and mice in a dwelling with no doors, windows, plumbing or electricity.

1988 - Runs out of money. Situation looks grim. Friend gives him toy plastic tractor; ideas form.Begins working with local community education systems and takes out 3rd mortgage toimprove property and start an artist residency program to compensate for no art education.

1990 - New York Mills Arts Retreat incorporates as a non-profit organization and hosts first artist, from Montpellier, France. Tractor is chosen as logo. Davis named Executive Director.

* Convinces local businessman to donate $10,000 and oldest brick building in town to start a Regional Cultural Center for the arts. Convinces City council in town of 942 to give $35,000 (The equivalent of Minneapolis giving 13.5 million dollars).

1992 - Regional Cultural Center opens as a national prototype for innovative rural arts programing.

* After grand opening, buys a red 1966 Ford Galaxie convertible, drives to Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, idea gels for a philosophy contest called a "Think-Off". Returns to NY Mills.

1993 - Awarded Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Vision at the Ordway Theater in Minneapolis. NY Mills presents its own vision award for "Making believers out of non-believers."

* First Think-Off held in NY Mills, national publicity follows.

1995 - Since Cultural Center opened, 17 new businesses and over 350 jobs created in NY Mills. Presents ideas for downtown revitalization. Tractor logo put on town water tower.NY Mills listed as top 100 art towns in America, one of top 5 "culturally cool" by USA Today.

1996 - Converts vintage Airstream trailer into aluminum office and returns to the Southwest.

1997- Creates N.Y. Mills Sculpture Park, with 800 ft. corn cob fence and 25 ft. tall steel tractor.

1998 - Chooses "is honesty always the best policy?" as Think-Off question. C-SPAN covers event live, NBC Today Show interviews winner. Leaves Cultural Center after accomplishing 5 and 10 year goals to travel the country in his vintage 1971 Airstream trailer.

2000- After traveling in airstream, accepts job as Executive Director of Cornucopia Art Center in Lanesboro, Minnesota, another top 100 small art town in America. Starts the Kids Philosophy Slam, to make philosophy accessible for kids and teens.

2001- Inaugural Kids Philosophy Slam huge success, with over 4,300 entries from students from across the country and around the world answering the question, "Which is more powerful, love or hate?"