Artistathlete Players Artwork Will Benefit Children 2009: Started Seemingly

Artistathlete Players artwork will benefit children

It started with a seemingly insignificant $13 purchase of a sketchbook, colored pencils and markers.
It’s grown from a pastime into a passion that could change the lives of elementary-aged children in Berkeley because of a Cal basketball player’s drawings of President Obama. “I no longer believe in coincidence,” power forward Jamal Boykin said. “The way things have lined up just proves it was all supposed to happen.” The line has led to a charity event Saturday, the first of at least three showcases for Boykin’s hand-crafted portraits of Obama. Donations from entries into each exhibition, beginning at the Alphonse Berber Gallery and stretching to later shows in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and probably San Francisco, will be given to the art program at Malcolm X Elementary School. The work, which will be completed with a 44th piece on site in D.C., has a magazine-like theme, ranges from sketches to stippling and includes Boykin’s’ first forays into acrylic paint and cross-hatching. With each piece, he wows with accuracy and talent, and, as he pulls the portraits out of their sleeves, he cradles them with the respect they deserve. “The only way I could ever sell this is if I had the blessing from the president,” Boykin said. “To me, I feel like this is my child.” Boykin has gotten little or no sleep in the last month. Hours after he stayed up until 4 a.m. to finish one piece, he appeared fresh, seemingly aglow. “I honestly feel almost subhuman at times,” Boykin said. “Time doesn’t exist when I’m drawing.”
Art was a boyhood obsession for Boykin, but with the rigors of being a student-athlete at Duke and then Cal, he didn’t draw for 2 1/2 years. That all changed Jan. 1, when he decided he wasn’t producing enough while spending free time on Facebook, YouTube and the cell phone.

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