Ernest “Ernie” Eugene Barnes, Jr.(July 15, 1938 – April 27, 2009) was an African-American painter, well known for his unique style of elongation and movement. He was also a professional football player, actor and author.
Ernie Barnes is the artist for the painting ‘Sugar Shack’ which is the cover art on Marvin Gaye’s album ‘I Want You’ and which can be seen in the credits of ‘Good Times’ for four years. Writer and producer, Norman Lear hired Barnes to create paintings for the show which the character, J. J. Evans, featured as his own.
• Began painting while playing football at North Carolina College
• Played for 5 years in the NFL
• 1965, Sonny Werblin, the owner of the “New York Jets.” cut a deal with Barnes offering him $14,500, a $2,000 bonus and a rental car to focus only on painting for six months. His one season NFL contract at the time paid $13,500. One year later he held a solo exhibition and retired from football.
• Barnes never painted his subjects with their eyes open. “We don’t see each other,” he said once in an interview. “We are blind to each other’s humanity.”