I couldn't sit with myself if I didn't offer an official farewell to painter Ernie Barnes. The prolific and talented painter passed away Monday. I don't know about you, but I grew up watching reruns of Good Times and gazing at the cover of Marvin Gaye's I Want You as my parents listened and grooved to the music. Barnes and his art were the main attraction for both. Although Good Times was a weekly presentation of theater-quality TV that examined social issues within the Black underlcass, it was Barnes' Sugar Shack painting in the closing credits that stuck to my soul. In a very sublte or maybe not-so-subtle way, Ernie Barnes' art asked me to study and observe "blackness" with a serious eye and heart. It was like he was saying, Yeah, this is TV and Hollywood is white and J.J. is funny, but I'm [Barnes] putting my mark on this to assure you we are real. Thanks, Ernie Barnes. I'm keeping you close!
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.