Artist and Athlete, Ernie Barnes
*Ernie Barnes was born on this date in 1938. He was an African American Neo-Mannerist artist and former professional football player.
Ernest Eugene Barnes Jr. was born in Durham, North Carolina. His parents were Ernest Sr. and Fannie Mae Geer Barnes. His mother worked as a domestic for a prominent attorney. As a child, Barnes would go with her to work and was allowed to peruse an extensive collection of art books. Barnes attended North Carolina Central University, where he played football. Barnes played offensive guard for five seasons in the American Football League (AFL): the New York Titans in 1960, the San Diego Chargers (1961–1962) and the Denver Broncos (1963–1964). He was designated as "Official Artist of the American Football League".
His artwork is characterized by elongated figures, usually in motion. Many of his paintings have a sports theme. He was named Official Artist of the 1984 Summer Olympics and received the 1984 and 2004 Sport Artist of the Year Award presented annually by the American Sport Art Museum and Archives.
Barnes also painted The Sugar Shack which is featured on the cover of the Marvin Gaye album I Want You and in the credits of the 1970s U.S. sitcom Good Times. He also created many other paintings, which were featured throughout the show. Barnes also appeared in small roles in a couple of episodes of the series.
In 2004, rapper and record producer Kanye West commissioned Barnes to paint an interpretation of West's recovery from a 2002 near fatal car crash. The painting, named A Life Restored, measures 9 ft x 10 ft and hangs from West's dining room ceiling.
Ernie Barnes died in May 2009 after a brief illness. He was married, had three daughters and two sons.
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