As some of you may know by now, figurative painter (& former NFL player) Ernie Barnes died on 4/27/09 of a rare blood disorder. I’ve been a fan of Mr Barnes from the moment I saw the well-known painting, “Sugar Shack”, at the end of the hit 70’s series, “Good Times” & his “ghost paintings” through the character of J.J. Evans (Jimmy Walker). He painted with so much depth & “knowing” as illustrated in the sharp, angular, muscularly-taut & emotive outlines of his forms. Interestingly, he never painted ‘open eyes’ and this was because he observed that, ” “We don’t see each other. We are blind to each other’s humanity.”
Legendary composer, Bill Withers, who was a close friend of Mr Barnes during the last decade of his life, said of his friend, “He wanted people to look past the superficial into the real vulnerable parts of themselves…He wanted to help people peel away that layer of protection that we all wear to ward off any intrusion into our real private thoughts”.
In tribute to this extraordinary artist (deemed a master of the “analyzed moment”), I created a playlist of two brothers who are cut from the same cloth as Mr Barnes: Antwan Patton & Andre Benjamin aka Outkast. I consider these cats the cream of the crop–simply unsurpassed in their originality, openness, eclecticism, poetic fluidity & innovative musicality. Indeed, Mr Barnes own natural rhythmic musicality jumps from his soulful masterpieces & he will be missed. What a life well spent!