“The North Carolina Roots
of Artist Ernie Barnes”
North Carolina Museum of History, Downtown Raleigh
Art Exhibition through March 3, 2019
Featuring many unpublished original Ernie Barnes paintings, studies and sketches.
Barnes was born July 15, 1938 in Durham at the height of Jim Crow Era. He lived with his parents and younger brother in “The Bottom” section of the city and only attended segregated public schools, including Hillside High and HBCU North Carolina College. In 1960 he left home when he was drafted to play professional football with Baltimore Colts. After five seasons as an offensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos, he retired at age 27 to devote himself to art.
In his prolific body of work, Barnes chronicled his personal experiences with football, music, dance, love, sports, education, church and the South. A majority of his artwork contains references to Durham and North Carolina.
Included in the exhibition is “Homecoming,” the marching band painting at the Durham intersection 15-501 and his iconic dance hall painting "The Sugar Shack" that is well-known from the Marvin Gaye album cover and the television show Good Times. "The Sugar Shack" was actually inspired by a dance the pre-teen Barnes experienced in the early 1950s at the Durham (City) Armory.
There’s also personal artifacts from his sports, entertainment and art career. Barnes died at age 70 on April 27, 2009.
Free admission. Hours: Monday thru Saturday 9am to 5pm. Sunday 12 noon to 5pm. 5 East Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
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