This week, San Francisco 49ers tight-end Vernon Davis opened Gallery 85 in Santana Row to an overcapacity crowd of athletes, businessmen, city officials and VIPs. Located on Olsen, a few blocks in from Winchester, the former bank space will now be a full-blown art gallery showcasing work from Davis’ own collection as well as that of local artists.

For the opening celebration, nearly 40 pieces eventually went up for auction, mostly paintings and a few sculptures. Davis’ own works in the auction included several still-life pieces, abstract figurative works and portraits of friends, family and sports stars. Other participating artists included Bruni Sablan, Mark Gray, William Rhodes, Lorraine Lawson and others.

I wouldn’t quite say Davis’ painting talent equals his athletic ability, but during college he majored in studio art, and he currently heads the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts, an effort to help disadvantaged youth realize their artistic potential via grants and good old-fashioned mentorship. That is, he’s not bankrolling athletic scholarships; he’s helping artists instead.

Each year, a scholarship is awarded to provide tuition support for pursuing a university arts education, with this year’s award going to Niyjale Cummings, originally from East Palo Alto. In the gallery, Cummings’ mixed-media minisculptures of wire and found materials were on display right next to the other works.

The evening was a star-studded affair; seemingly every news crew from the Bay Area was there for the red carpet, while the line for the mere mortals stretched almost all the way to Winchester. Quarterback Alex Smith showed up, along with other teammates, as well as Niners owner Jed York.

Read more: