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Exhibit Opening: The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes

Friday, Jun. 29

Image: The Sugar Shack. Copyright © Ernie Barnes Family Trust

The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes will showcase many unpublished Ernie Barnes original paintings, as well as artifacts from his life. Barnes was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. After five seasons as a professional football player, he retired at age 27 to pursue art. The exhibit will be at the museum from June 29, 2018, through March 3, 2019.

In his prolific body of work, Barnes chronicled his personal experiences with football, music, dance, love, sports, education, church, and the South. Widely-known as the real painter of the artwork in the groundbreaking African-American sitcom Good Times, Barnes' style has been widely imitated. It is best exemplified by his iconic Sugar Shack dance scene that appeared on a Marvin Gaye album cover and in the closing credits of Good Times. This painting, "The Sugar Shack," was inspired by an actual dance at the Durham Armory.

Barnes is best known for his unique style of elongation, energy, and movement. Affectionately nicknamed “Big Rembrandt” by his teammates, he is the first professional American athlete to become a noted painter.