On Feb. 27, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis hosted a reception at Gallery 85 in San Jose to open a new exhibit called “The Journey.” The Journey is meant to highlight African-Americans’ journey in the United States dating back to slavery all the way to the modern day with an emphasis on the rich culture that’s persisted and grown in the process. The exhibit featured the work of artists who were present to discuss their work as well as well as African drumming students from the local Starting Arts organization. The atmosphere was jovial and upbeat throughout the two-hour reception as people anxiously awaited the arrival of No. 85.
I was lucky enough to attend the reception alongside Davis, who was beaming with pride and eagerly greeted and thanked all the guests for being there. Davis, who is an artist himself having majored in studio art at Maryland, was initially too shy to explore his interest in art when he was growing up in an impoverished region of Washington D.C. He feared judgement from his peers, but his passion for providing underprivileged youth with the same outlet that he now enjoys is quite evident.
“Art has the capacity to engage its viewers through aesthetics, but also to teach about the past through its subject and content,” Davis wrote on his foundation’s website. “Our hope is that this exhibit helps honor and celebrate a part of the journey that African-Americans have taken and help share the story about the past, present, and future that surrounds the African-American experience,” he added.
Davis’ desire to improve the lives of Bay Area youth through art is a unique approach, but his public persona and popularity make him a perfect spokesman for the objective.