Self portrait, oil on canvas by: Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis helping open the 85 Gallery in Santana Row, San Jose, Calif.
By: Aleksandra Bulatskaya
Most professional football players don’t go around opening art galleries and funding arts scholarships but then again, most professional NFL players, aren’t Vernon Davis. A painter in his free time, the 49ers tight end recently opened the new 85 Gallery on the glitzy Santana Row strip of San Jose, Calif.
The 85 Gallery is not just a vanity piece for Davis, although it is named after Davis’ 85 jersey number and heavily features his works. Among the more established names on display, like glass artist Kevin Chong and jazz painter Bruni Sablan, the mixed media sculptures of Nyijale (pronounced Nigel) Cummings –- the newest recipient of the Vernon Davis Scholarship for the Arts — stood out most.
A high school student from gritty East Palo Alto, Cummings faced a lot of criticism from friends and family about a future in art, much like Davis did himself.
“I come from a family where all my relatives played football,” Cummings was quoted saying in the Metro. “When I started doing art, it was a new thing, and I was even doubting myself about doing it…When I won the scholarship, everyone was like, ‘Whoa, you can actually do something now.'”
Davis said that growing up he was made fun of for his love of art and painting. He founded the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts to help underprivileged children learn about careers in arts. Sales from the 85 Gallery will benefit the foundation and help fund Vernon Davis art scholarship.
For a man playing arguably the most macho sport in the country, something has to be said for a certain kind of courage it took for Davis to continue to stand by his passion for art. Both the gallery and the scholarship foundation are a testament to this commitment and should serve as an example for all aspiring athlete-artists.
377 Santana Row, Suite 1180
San Jose, CA 95128
Weekdays: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Weekends: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.