Pigskins to paintbrushes The story of football-playing artist Ernie Barnes

Don Tate

Book - 2021

"From acclaimed author and illustrator Don Tate, the rousing story of Ernie Barnes, an African American pro football player and fine artist"--

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Subjects
Genres
Picture books
Biographies
Published
New York : Abrams Books for Young Readers 2021.
Language
English
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages [47]-[48]).
ISBN
9781419749438
1419749439
Main Author
Don Tate (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Growing up in a "hardworking but poor" Black neighborhood in Durham, North Carolina, Ernest Barnes excelled at drawing pictures, not at sports. In school, he endured plenty of teasing, especially as a teenager who grew big enough to play football. When a supportive coach encouraged him to try bodybuilding, Barnes took up the challenge and gained the strength and confidence that made him the captain of his high-school football team. The teasing stopped and, by senior year, scholarship offers poured in. After playing college football, Barnes was drafted by the Colts and played football professionally for five years before retiring from the sport and beginning his new career as an artist. The book's informative back matter includes additional biographical information, source notes for quotes, a bibliography, and an author's note relating Tate's childhood experiences to those of Barnes. Written in clear, direct sentences, the text uses quotes effectively without interrupting the flow of the narrative. The nicely composed mixed-media collage illustrations establish the twentieth-century settings while capturing the stages of Barnes' life. An expressive, engaging picture-book biography. Grades 2-5. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Ernie Barnes (1938–2009) is different from the kids in his community: "A boy who didn't play sports? Who loved art, played the trombone, and enjoyed reading poetry?" In the Bottom, the African American neighborhood where Barnes lived in segregated Durham, N.C., expectations center on sports: "Play football—that's what real boys do." Barnes does play, eventually going pro, but maintains his art practice, parlaying his skill into becoming the official artist of the American Football League. Barnes's two pursuits never quite cohere in this picture book, and the cheery mixed-media illustrations don't evoke Barnes's artistic aesthetic, adding to the sense that something essential is missing from this telling. But Tate's tale illuminates the structural and social obstacles Barnes faced—from intense peer pressure to the adult Barnes's longed-for first trip to an art museum, where he was told "your people don't express themselves this way"—and clearly highlights the idea that there need be no division of interests between arts and sports. An afterword includes additional biographical information. Ages 6–10. (Aug.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An award-winning author/illustrator presents the inspiring story of Ernie Barnes, an African American pro football player and fine artist who defined himself on his own terms and pushed the boundaries of “possible,” from the field to the canvas. Back matter includes Barnes’ photograph, his official Topps trading card, author’s note, endnotes, bibliography and a list of websites where Barnes’ work can be seen. 15,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"From acclaimed author and illustrator Don Tate, the rousing story of Ernie Barnes, an African American pro football player and fine artist"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From acclaimed author and illustrator Don Tate, the rousing story of Ernie Barnes, an African American pro football player and fine artistHe realized how football and art were one and the same. Both required rhythm. Both required technique. Passing, pulling, breaking down the field—that was an art. Young Ernie Barnes wasn’t like other boys his age. Bullied for being shy, overweight, and uninterested in sports like boys were “supposed” to be, he instead took refuge in his sketchbook, in vibrant colors, bold brushstrokes, and flowing lines. But growing up in a poor, Black neighborhood during the 1930s, opportunities to learn about art were rare, and art museums were off-limits because of segregation laws. Discouraged and tired of being teased, Ernie joined the school football team. Although reluctant at first, he would soon become a star. But art remained in Ernie’s heart and followed him through high school, college, and into the NFL. Ernie saw art all around him: in the dynamic energy of the game, the precision of plays, and the nimble movement of his teammates. He poured his passion into his game and his craft, and became famous as both a professional athlete and as an artist whose paintings reflected his love of the sport and celebrated Black bodies as graceful and beautiful. He played for the Baltimore Colts (1959–60), Titans of New York (1960), San Diego Chargers (1960–62), and the Denver Broncos (1963–64). In 1965, Barnes signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Canada, but fractured his right foot, which ended his professional football career. Soon after, he met New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin, who was impressed by Barnes and his art. In 1966, Barnes had a debut solo exhibition in New York City, sponsored by Werblin at the Grand Central Art Galleries; all the paintings were sold. Barnes became so well-known as an artist that one of his paintings was featured in the opening credits of the TV show Good Times, and he was commissioned to create official posters for the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics. From award-winning author and illustrator Don Tate, Pigskins to Paintbrushes is the inspiring story of Ernie Barnes, who defined himself on his own terms and pushed the boundaries of “possible,” from the field to the canvas. The back matter includes Barnes’s photograph and his official Topps trading card. Also included are an author’s note, endnotes, a bibliography, and a list of websites where Barnes’s work can be seen.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From acclaimed author and illustrator Don Tate, the rousing story of Ernie Barnes, an African American pro football player and fine artist   He realized how football and art were one and the same. Both required rhythm. Both required technique. Passing, pulling, breaking down the field—that was an art. Young Ernie Barnes wasn’t like other boys his age. Bullied for being shy, overweight, and uninterested in sports like boys were “supposed” to be, he instead took refuge in his sketchbook, in vibrant colors, bold brushstrokes, and flowing lines. But growing up in a poor, Black neighborhood during the 1930s, opportunities to learn about art were rare, and art museums were off-limits because of segregation laws. Discouraged and tired of being teased, Ernie joined the school football team. Although reluctant at first, he would soon become a star. But art remained in Ernie’s heart and followed him through high school, college, and into the NFL. Ernie saw art all around him: in the dynamic energy of the game, the precision of plays, and the nimble movement of his teammates. He poured his passion into his game and his craft, and became famous as both a professional athlete and as an artist whose paintings reflected his love of the sport and celebrated Black bodies as graceful and beautiful. He played for the Baltimore Colts (1959–60), Titans of New York (1960), San Diego Chargers (1960–62), and the Denver Broncos (1963–64). In 1965, Barnes signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Canada, but fractured his right foot, which ended his professional football career. Soon after, he met New York Jets owner Sonny Werblin, who was impressed by Barnes and his art. In 1966, Barnes had a debut solo exhibition in New York City, sponsored by Werblin at the Grand Central Art Galleries; all the paintings were sold. Barnes became so well-known as an artist that one of his paintings was featured in the opening credits of the TV show Good Times, and he was commissioned to create official posters for the Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics. From award-winning author and illustrator Don Tate, Pigskins to Paintbrushes is the inspiring story of Ernie Barnes, who defined himself on his own terms and pushed the boundaries of “possible,” from the field to the canvas. The back matter includes Barnes’s photograph and his official Topps trading card. Also included are an author’s note, endnotes, a bibliography, and a list of websites where Barnes’s work can be seen.