Young artist picks up 3rd award in HIAS calendar competition

Another year, another prize. Guaranteed.

Edward Yevelev, a 12-year-old at San Jose's Rogers Middle School, placed as a finalist in the HIAS poster contest this year — just as he did last year and the year before that.

Yevelev's latest winner can be seen in this year's Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society calendar. He's "Mr. July."

The young artist once again collected a $50 reward check.

"America gives you the opportunity to learn and get an education and live a good life," said Yevelev, explaining the inspiration for his poster. Yevelev, his parents and two brothers have lived in the United States since 1990 after leaving Polotsk, Belarus.

"Because we were Jewish, they didn't like us so we had to leave," he said.

Though Yevelev — whose name is actually misspelled as "Yelevev" on the calendar — has demonstrated a proficiency at cracking the HIAS calendar's top 12, the art of poster-making is a bit more structured than he'd prefer. The middle-schooler admits he loves drawing cartoons and has been drawing them since he was 8 years old.

"He doesn't always like to draw these type of pictures; he doesn't like topics. He likes to draw whatever he sees," said Edward's mother, Dina. "Sometimes you have to try to organize him. He loves to draw basketball players and games. Anything relating to sports. Football and basketball are his two big passions."

Yevelev recently realized a dream, when his first-place finish in another poster competition won him the chance to meet Oakland Raiders' quarterback Rich Gannon.

And, not surprisingly, no fewer than three basketballs and a football are featured in Yevelev's HIAS poster. One appears in the dorm room of a Stanford student — though Yevelev, with an older brother at U.C. Berkeley, maintained he prefers the Golden Bears to the Cardinal.

Yevelev — who will become a bar mitzvah at Saratoga's Congregation Beth David along with his twin brother, Gary, in August — isn't sure what direction his art will take him.

But he sure wouldn't mind lacing up his high-tops and hitting the hardwood as a professional basketball player.

"Maybe even more than art," his mother said, "he loves basketball."

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.