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Painter Ernie Barnes Dies At 70
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Painter Ernie Barnes Dies At 70


(Soundbite of song, "Good Times")

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Good times…

Unidentified Man: (Singing) Anytime you need a payment.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Good times…

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) Anytime you need a friend.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Good times…

Unidentified Man: (Singing) Anytime you're out from under.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.


If that song is familiar to you, then the images I'm about to describe will also be familiar. Think of the thin, black, sinewy limbs of dancers, all with their eyes closed, lost in the music of a juke joint. The painter was Ernie Barnes. The painting is called "Sugar Shack." That song is the theme to the hit TV show "Good Times," and "Sugar Shack" appeared during the show's closing credits. It was also on the cover of Marvin Gaye's album "I Want You."

(Soundbite of song, "I Want You")

Mr. MARVIN GAYE (Singer): (Singing) I want you, right away. I want you, but I want you to want me.

NORRIS: Ernie Barnes died on Monday. He was 70 years old. Barnes came to painting after a career in professional football as an offensive lineman with the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos. Teammates called him Big Rembrandt. He could take on a defensive lineman, then turn around and commit the encounter to canvas. Many people would call Ernie Barnes a black painter. He preferred the description neo-Mannerist. Barnes never painted his subjects with their eyes open. As he said in an interview: We don't see each other. We are blind to each other's humanity. You can see Barnes' work at our Web site, Ernie Barnes died on Monday. He was 70.

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