Barack Obama Collection :: Jamal Boykin celebrates his work

Athletes, coaches, Cal students, moms and dads and major media outlets gathered Saturday in the Alphonse Berber Gallery on Bancroft in Berkeley. The space was filled with people hoping to catch a glimpse of The Barack Obama Collection. A series of 44 pieces painted and drawn by Cal senior- and forward on the Golden Bears basketball team- Jamal Boykin was featured amongst the eclectic mix of sculptures, paintings and photographs permanently featured in the gallery.

Boykin’s work celebrated the new president. Indeed, the keywords utilized throughout Obama’s campaign to describe his future time in office were not exaggerations – the atmosphere around the gallery was truly one of “hope” and “progress”. Everyone was equally responsive to the mention of Obama in the Whitehouse as to Boykin’s successful budding art career. It is pretty impressive how dynamic Cal’s student population is- our finest athletes are also extremely artistically talented. Boykin even posed in BARE’s i4! While the event was open to the public, the gallery was packed and it was clear that Boykin’s friends from UC Berkeley have thrown themselves behind his work and believe in him.

Cal shooting guard Patrick Christopher performed two poems and guard Nican Robinson MC’d the evening as well as showcased his photography in the gallery. Boykin spoke to an enthusiastic and supportive crowd as he explained that although he often used to draw, he only recently started up again when a friend challenged him to as a new year’s resolution. He explained that when he was drawing the president, he experienced something deeply profound and felt that he was destined to meet the man. Little did he know that the art he crafted in airports, on charter-busses and even in the early hours of the morning in his Berkeley bedroom would actually garner him the opportunity to meet the president.

Boykin’s work has been featured on ESPN, NBC, CBS and in the SF Chronicle. It was however at a basketball game (when the bears played Oregon State) that he met Coach Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother, and Robinson complimented him on his drawings. He even offered to get the artist and his subject together. Boykin jokingly remarked “That may have been strategy!” as the excitement of meeting Obama proved distracting during the game. Now, Boykin is headed to D.C. in June and is hopeful that the President himself will stop by and see the show.

Attendees were asked to donate in any and all amounts, with all proceeds donated to Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School’s art programs. The event was a celebration of the success Boykin and his teammates have already experienced and the successes they look forward to in the future. BARE wishes the artists the best of luck on and off the court.

Julia Heidelman
BARE Reporter

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