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 Nov. 19 at the Eddie G. Robinson Museum.
“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.
Coach Doug Williams and James Harris brought Skipper to the attention of the Robinson family. Williams, the head coach of Grambling’s football team and Harris, senior personnel executive for the Detroit Lions, played for Robinson, the winningest coach in NCAA Division I football history. The family liked 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, which is located in the Eddie G. Robinson museum, as a gold cover hid the portrait. Skipper worked more than 2,000 hours to produce a picture so vivid and realistic that Doris Robinson reached out to touch the painting of her husband and tears welled up in her eyes.
Several photographers rushed to shoot the artist, his most recent masterpiece, take photos of 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,” said 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’s Mayor Edward Jones and Eddie G. Robinson Jr. The audience was surprised when Mrs. 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 $85,000. There will be 557 regular editions sold for $150. Another 57 signature editions will be sold for $350, including five of the legendary coach’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 an open and unlimited mini print editions that will be sold for $41.
Part of the proceeds will benefit the university’s athletic programs. The art works can be purchased by visiting www.anointedhomesart.com