By Erina Love
Photos by Trent Brown
Grambling State University Media Bureau
When Steve Skipper was 36 years old, he made his way to Grambling State University to look into the possibility of painting a portrait of Eddie G. Robinson. Unfortunately, he missed Robinson by five minutes.
Seventeen years later, Skipper unveiled what is now the official Robinson family commemorative portrait of the legendary football coach on Monday night at the Eddie G. Robinson Museum on the university’s campus.
“I have three sons and four daughters and as they celebrate the gift that God gave me, I want them to be able to celebrate the greatness of Eddie G. Robinson,” said Skipper, 53, a Homewood, Ala. native and president of Anointed Homes Art.
Doug Williams and James Harris brought Skipper to the attention of the Robinson family. Williams, the head coach of last season’s SWAC championship Grambling football team who leads his team into this weekend’s Bayou Classic, and Harris, senior personnel executive for the Detroit Lions, played for Robinson, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I football history. The family like the work they saw and they commissioned him to paint the coach’s portrait.
Loved ones and supporters of coach Robinson sat in anticipation in the Doris Robinson Banquet Hall as a gold cover hid the portrait that took Skipper more than 2,000 hours to paint a portrait so realistic that Mrs. Doris Robinson reached out to touch her husband as tears welled up in her eyes. Several photographers rushed to shoot the artist and his most recent masterpiece and to photograph family members and others with the painting. The audience erupted with applause and sounds of amazement.
“It is special and a privilege to have the unveiling on campus and in the museum,” stated the Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue. “Eddie G. Robinson’s name is synonymous with Grambling, they are one in the same and we are blessed to have the experience of the artist behind the painting.”
Skipper is the official artist for the University of Alabama and he is nationally recognized as one of the nation’s top sports artists. Several special guests spoke before the unveiling, including Grambling Mayor Edward Jones and Eddie G. Robinson Jr. The audience was surprised when Mrs. Doris Robinson went to the podium to speak. She rarely makes public comments.
“When we talk about black history on Grambling’s campus, we’re including Eddie G. Robinson, and when I talk about the lives he has touched and impacted, I’m including myself,” said Williams, who saw Robinson as a mentor and considers himself a part of the Robinson family.
The original painting is valued at $8,500. There will be 557 regular editions sold for $150. Another 57 signature editions will be sold for $350, including five of Coach Robinson’s top players — Williams, Harris, Willie Davis, Willie Brown and Charles Joiner. Another 41 artist proofs will be sold for $500 with Eddie G. Robinson’s signature embossed in gold, and 41 mini print editions will be sold for $41 dollars. Part of the proceeds will benefit the university’s athletics programs. The art can be purchased by visiting www.anointedhomesart.com
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