Student-Athlete-Artists Move Up to Museum

UC Davis’ student-athlete-artists have come a long way from the Log Cabin Gallery in downtown Davis, holding their 11th Art of Athletes exhibition at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art for the first time.

Katie Steffen Brune: “Yogi,” charcoal, 2019.

Nearly 30 athletes from a dozen teams showed art in the one-night event, Feb. 20, while other athletes provided entertainment.

Brandon Tucker ’10, the exhibition’s co-founder, attended last year’s 10th anniversary show and returned this year. “I like that it still has a student guiding its way,” said Tucker, who started the show with football teammate Bakari Grant ’09, at the recommendation of art professor Mike Henderson.

“It started from John Natsoulas’ storage room, that log cabin, slowly progressed on campus to the Basement Gallery,” Tucker said. “And now this museum opens its doors for this.”

From football to art

 The Grass Is Greener, a view over a fence to a sports field
Brandon Tucker: “Is the Grass Greener?” oil on canvas.
Brandon Tucker mugshot

Tucker earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in art (with a minor in African American studies) and subsequently received a Master of Fine Arts from Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach. He teaches art and physical education at BASIS Independent School in Fremont, and previously taught at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley.

“The fact that [Art of Athletes] still exists as part of the Davis community is what I’m most proud of,” Tucker said. “It’s for visitors to come look and see another side of our athletes, a side you don’t see when you go to a ballgame.

“For [the athletes] to have this opportunity to show another side — a nugget of their soul, if you will — is always great. That was the drive I had when I established this.”

Impact on athletes

Farah Farjood mugshot

Field hockey’s Farah Farjood, a fourth-year communication student who organized this year’s exhibition, said she was grateful Tucker made it to the show “and that we got to tell him about the impact he has made on our lives as student-athletes.”

“This year was awesome and I really hope that next year is even better, that there will be more artists and even more people showing up to the event,” she said.

Don’t get her wrong. She was more than happy with this year’s attendance, which more than doubled her expectations. “When caterers asked me how many people to expect, I think I said 30 to 40,” she said.

 Walk in the Park
Photo Distortion

The exhibitors

  • Cross country-track and field — Chloe Arriaga and Xolan Brown
  • Equestrian — Madison Dempster and Oceana Haaland
  • Field hockey — Tatiana Arias, Emily Chen, Carli Colyer, Farah Farjood, Audrey Matthew, Izzy Porco, Cat Potente, Nicola Prebble, Brooke Sanchez, Kalli Wagnon and Shannon Wong
  • Football — Darius Livingston
  • Golf — Madison Wood and Skyler Wood
  • Gymnastics — Alyssa Ito
  • Lacrosse — Kate Graham
  • Softball — Katie Kibby and Katie Steffen-Brune
  • Swimming — Amelia Cho, Mia Cunnan and Macayla Thomas
  • Volleyball-beach volleyball — Ally Reyes and Jane Seslar


The Art of Athletes’ show also featured two musical performances. Golfer Yoonhee Kim performed Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love,” while coach Daniel Leyson, the Child and Meisel Families Director of Men’s Water Polo, joined his team in singing of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” only with Aggie water polo and Schaal Aquatics Center references replacing the West Virginia and Appalachia locales in the tune.

Men's water polo team, assembled as a chrous, singing.
Coach Daniel Leyson accompanies his water polo team at the Art of Athletes exhibition.

Photography by Mark Honbo/UC Davis | Some artwork has been cropped.

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