They’re big names in sports, but this month they’ve taken on a new challenge: art.

Former VCU standout Larry Sanders, Redskins tight end Vernon Davis and soccer star Jay DeMerit are among the athletes whose art is on display as part of “The Abstract Athlete” exhibition.

The works are on display through March 16 at the 1708 Gallery at 319 W. Broad Street.

In addition, the exhibition will be accompanied by a symposium on Friday at the Washington Redskins training center.

From 1 to 3 p.m., a panel of Davis, E.J. Manuel, Percy King, Alicia Dietz, VCU basketball’s Jarred Guest and Dr. David Cifu, a nationally renowned VCU specialist, will speak on the intersection of sports and art. Admission is $7.50, or free for students.

The exhibition and symposium are the brainchild of Ron Johnson and Chris Clemmer. Clemmer, an entrepreneur, and Johnson, a VCU art professor, hope this will be the first of many similar events.

First, though, they hope this one is a hit with sports fans who may not usually walk into an art gallery.

“Maybe this will inspire a kid, or an adult, to be more creative,” Johnson said.

Most of the artwork on display is for sale, with a portion of the proceeds going to a charity designated by the artist.

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mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

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