Utah Jazz: Artist-athlete Jeremy Evans puts work on display

Published: Tuesday, April 8 2014 11:20 p.m. MDT

Steve and Candis Tippets look at paintings and drawings by Utah Jazz small forward Jeremy Evans that were on display Tuesday inside EnergySolutions Arena.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — During the 2013 NBA Dunk Contest, Jazz forward Jeremy Evans jumped over a covered portrait of himself jumping over a covered portrait.

Even though the tough championship-round slam was all the more challenging because of the extra degree of artistic difficulty, Evans wasn’t crowned as a two-time dunking champ.

It certainly didn’t help that not many realized it was his handiwork. He even touched up the portrait before the contest to get some final details, like the color of the basketball, just right.

Evans’ painting was on full display again Tuesday night at EnergySolutions Arena. But this time, it was quite clear that the same guy wearing the No. 40 Jazz jersey in the paint was the creative person behind the aesthetic paint elsewhere in the building.

With the help of the Jazz, Evans turned part of the arena’s concourse into a personal art gallery for Tuesday night’s game.

“I’m excited, just so everybody can see it,” Evans said before his informal show, which he couldn't attend because of his Jazz duties. “Hopefully from here, I can do some work for other people.”

The talented work that he’s already put the finishing touches on included an impressive and diverse collection.

The paintings ranged from Tupac to temples (interestingly placed next to each other), from Michael Jordan to Marilyn Monroe, from himself in headphones to a beautifully done portrait of his wife.

Not to forget lion and tiger masterpieces, which evoke memories of playful banter Evans occasionally has with his basketball buddy Gordon Hayward.

“I always liked the lion because it was the king of the jungle,” Evans said.

Hayward disagrees.

“He loves tigers,” Evans said. “He’s like, ‘If they got into a fight, the tiger would win.’ ”

No question which friend would win an art scuffle.

“He’s really talented,” Hayward said. “I like to challenge him and hype him up and say, ‘You can’t do this or that,’ and he gets all riled up and then does it and then I get to see a pretty cool piece of art.”

Evans’ tiger painting happens to be one of his favorites. Hayward also admitted that he was recently in awe of how Evans drew a guy that resembled Trey Burke on his iPad while on the team plane coming back from Oakland. He also once killed time at Macaroni Grill with eye-popping results on the tablecloth.

“We went to dinner and he drew a picture of me, a caricature with crayons. It was pretty good for just like an at-dinner, crayon doodle,” Hayward said. “He’s funny, man. He’s got a talent just to do that. I don’t know how he just sees it and draws it. It’s crazy.”

Evans has been doodling like that since he was about 4 years old, and he’s just kept fine-tuning his talent. Like his basketball skills, the 6-foot-9 athlete’s art skills leaped to the next level during his college days at Western Kentucky. (He still keeps in almost daily contact with one of his art professors.) Now Evans can adeptly use pencils and paint to make splendid details pop out, like the sparkly nose piercing in his Tupac Shakur painting that still wows teammate Alec Burks.

“That’s crazy,” Burks said. “That’s probably the best piece I’ve seen him do.”

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