Over the course of a few hot days in July of 2019 Bariq Cobbs created an astonishing mural on Wing’s studio at the corner of 40th and Westminster in West Philadelphia. The masterful handling of vibrant colors, original and pop culture imagery signals the spirit of playful creativity found within the walls. The mural is a funky portal connecting Wing’s studio to the vital energy of the surrounding community.
Bariq Cobbs knew, even as a child, that art would be central to his life. Some of his earliest memories are drawing and painting, and competing with his siblings to make the best sketches. He drew inspiration from comics, graffiti, and modern art, and later studied animation and film at the University of the Arts.
Today he is the founder of multiple apparel and design companies including Tribe Vibe, Funky Roots, and Miskeen Original. His paintings have appeared in feature films, on TV, and been exhibited at the African American Museum and Please Touch Museums in Philadelphia.
Wing and Cobbs formed their friendship at the Ellen Powell Tiberino Museum a few blocks away from Wing’s home and studio. Joe Tiberino, a seminal figure in the Philadelphia arts community, known simply as the Chief, was a big part of bringing the pair together. Cobbs portrayed Tiberino larger than life between the windows of Wing’s studio.
While at work in the studio Wing is treated to a stream of excited reactions from passersby. Countless groups and individuals have stoped to take selfies in front of the mural. What had been an undistinguished, bland cinderblock wall now pulses and vibrates with color and energy, engaging the hearts and imaginations of all who see it.
Over the years Wing and Cobbs have shown their art together at The Rush Arts Philadelphia gallery in Logan, enjoyed going to the movies, and made elaborate plans to collaborate. Due to busy schedules and a global pandemic the plan to work together on a body of painted sculptures has been temporarily put on hold. But the day will come again when the pair can create something spontaneous and entirely original together.
Watch this space…!
Heartfelt thanks to Bariq, his teachers and ancestors who gave him the gifts he brings to the world.