Opening Reception: Wednesday, February 15, 2023, 6-8PM with special musical guests Channel Tres and Andre Power. No RSVP required.
Saturday Block Party: February 18, 2023, 1-3PM with music from Gianni. No RSVP required.
UTA Artist Space presents Ernie Barnes: Where Music and Soul Live, an important survey of paintings by Ernest Eugene “Ernie” Barnes Jr. (1938-2009) that explores the history and music scene in Los Angeles, where the artist lived for many years. Works in the exhibition include prominent paintings Barnes made between the 1970s and up until 2008, right before his death in 2009. It will include over 30 well-known and also never-before-seen works from his estate and loans from important collectors. The exhibition at UTA Artist Space coincides with a co-presentation of Barnes’s work by Ortuzar Projects and Andrew Kreps at Frieze Los Angeles.
Barnes was an American artist, actor, author, and the first American professional athlete to become a noted painter. His paintings are known for their elongated figures and celebration of Black joy. Barnes is also well known for his work The Sugar Shack, a dancing scene featured on the cover of Marvin Gaye’s album I Want You and during the closing credits of the TV sitcom Good Times. Notably, the painting recently sold for $15.3 million at Christie’s, making national headlines. Music collectors of Barnes’ works include Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo, Lou Adler, Ray Parker Jr., and more.
This marks the second Ernie Barnes exhibition presented by UTA Artist Space. In 2020, the gallery alongside Luz Rodriguez, who manages the estate, debuted the first major exhibition since the artist passed in 2009. Titled Liberating Humanity From Within, the exhibition was curated in part by Barnes himself during his lifetime. Where Music and Soul Live is a further exploration of the artist’s practice and longstanding passion for music.
On the occasion of Where Music and Soul Live, UTA Artist Space, Beverly Hills, will be transformed into an immersive club and music venue evoking the 1970s by PLAYLAB to house the energetic works. Given the exhibition will center on music—impassioned portrayals of instrumentalists, dancers, clubs, and musicians, the exhibition design leans into the energy of the artwork. The space will connect sound to painting in innovative ways that make the gallery as active as the artworks and will contextualize Ernie’s work into spaces where music and movement live. Using icons of the club experience—speakers, lighting, flooring—each gallery will offer an evocative multi-sensory experience connecting art and sound.
“I was first introduced to the work of Ernie Barnes through music. Iconic albums by artists including Marvin Gaye, Donald Byrd, and Curtis Mayfield have been an integral part of household collections (including my own) for over 40 years,” says Zuzanna Ciolek, UTA Artist Space Director. “When fellow curator and UTA Artist Space Director Bridgette Baldo and I decided to present a second exhibition of work by Ernie Barnes, we knew it had to be about music and Ernie’s incredible relationships with the musicians of the city of Los Angeles.”
Rodriguez adds, “Music is a major part of Ernie Barnes’ life. Beginning with seeing the church choir every Sunday and taking trombone and piano lessons as a child. Music led him into a dance hall at the Durham Armory when he was a pre-teen. This event remained in his mind and later prompted The Sugar Shack. In this exhibition, you’ll see the range of Ernie’s many music interests and his experiences. Ernie also painted while listening to music – and he painted every day.”
ABOUT ERNIE BARNES
Ernie Barnes (1938-2009) created some of the twentieth century’s most iconic images of African American life. Known for his unique ‘neo-mannerist’ approach of presenting figures through elongated forms, he captured his observations of life growing up in segregated Durham, North Carolina, playing five seasons in the NFL during the early 1960s, and living in Los Angeles after his retirement from professional football. Popularly admired, but not yet widely known within the mainstream art world, Barnes is revered by a diverse group of collectors and admirers across the country. In pop culture, the art of Ernie Barnes appears in television, movies and music album covers, especially his famous dance hall scene The Sugar Shack. Barnes is the first American professional athlete to become a noted painter. He was commissioned to paint artwork for corporations, musicians, celebrities and professional sports teams. His work is currently held in many collections, including the National Museum of African American History & Culture, California African American Museum, Brigham Young University Museum of Art, North Carolina Central University Art Museum, Hilbert Museum of California Art, McKenna Museum of African American Art, Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the American Sport Art Museum and Archives.
ABOUT UTA ARTIST SPACE
Since the establishment of its flagship Beverly Hills location in 2018, UTA Artist Space has been committed to showcasing art by globally recognized talent. With the announcement of a second Atlanta location, to open in 2023, UTA Artist Space will bring its impressive vision and reach across the United States. The original location has presented notable exhibitions with interdisciplinary artists and creatives, including Enrique Martinez Celaya, Mandy El-Sayegh, Conrad Egyir, The Estate of Ernie Barnes, Essence Harden, Ferrari Sheppard, and Ai Weiwei, among others.
UTA (United Talent Agency) unites ideas, opportunities and talent. The company represents some of the world’s most iconic, barrier-breaking artists, creators and changemakers—from actors, athletes and musicians to writers, gamers and digital influencers. One of the most influential companies in global entertainment, UTA’s business spans talent representation, content production, as well as strategic advisory and marketing work with some of the world’s biggest brands. UTA is headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, New York and London. More information can be found at unitedtalent.com
PLAYLAB, INC. is a Los Angeles-based creative studio founded in 2009. With no particular focus, we explore themes using art, architecture, and graphic design to initiate ideas for ourselves and others. PLAYLAB, INC. is: Archie Lee Coates IV, Jeff Franklin, Dillon Kogle, Ana Cecilia Thompson Motta, Justin Kim, Kylie McMahon, Jacob Lemon, Brett Su, and Jessie Baxa.