49ers' Vernon Davis helping San Francisco teens discover art 

Vernon Davis may be a bruiser on the football field, but the 49ers tight end has another side — one as soft as the stroke of a paintbrush.

Click on the photo at right to see a self portrait of Vernon Davis.

Being an athlete has brought him fame and fortune, but being an artist has brought him balance, Davis said.

“People look at me different, not just as a football player, but as someone who’s unique and different in his own way,” Davis told The San Francisco Examiner.

Davis doodled and drew pictures when he was supposed to be deciphering math equations in school. But he eventually stifled his artistic streak in favor of a more socially acceptable pursuit in the Washington, D.C., neighborhood where he grew up — being a jock.

“In my neighborhood you didn’t choose art. It was sports, basketball, football or being out on the streets selling drugs,” Davis said in a statement. “I had to wait until I got to college before I felt free enough to explore my interests in art.  I don’t want kids to go through that if it’s their passion.”

Davis is trying to reach San Francisco students who will relate to his experience by partnering his Davis Family Foundation with A.R.T. Ambassador Youth Program, which aims to engage teenagers in the arts. To mark that partnership, Davis will display a collection of 13 of his paintings at Gallery 1307 through Nov. 11.

The youth program launches next fall and will offer a four-year curriculum that aims to reach students by engaging them in art.

Having Davis as a role model will be a huge boost to the program, said co-founder Melorra Green.

“When you see someone on television, someone who has reached for the stars and is successful in what they’re doing and they’ve become a giant, to have this giant come in and say, ‘Hey, I was brave enough to pursue the arts’ — that’s something,” Green said.

After keeping his paintbrushes on the back burner through his childhood, Davis let his true colors shine in college. He studied studio art at the University of Maryland before being drafted in 2006.

Davis isn’t giving up his day job, but he hasn’t given up on art, either. He still makes time to paint on his days off, “just pretty much whenever I get time,” he said.

Hang time
What: 49ers tight end Vernon Davis’ 13-piece painting collection
Where: Gallery 1307, 1307 Fillmore St., S.F.
When: Saturday through Nov. 11; closed Mondays
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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Sarah Gantz

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