By Darlene Donloe
LEIMERT PARK — The absorbing art of internationally acclaimed artist Charles Bibbs is currently on display at Aziz Gallerie in Leimert Park Village through Dec. 31.
To celebrate Bibbs’ new exhibit, “Patterns of Life,” and his overall contributions to the art world, Aziz Diagne, owner of Aziz Gallerie, hosted an artist talk and reception at the venue Dec. 11.
“Aziz Gallerie is excited to highlight the work of Charles Bibbs,” said Diagne, who opened the gallery in February 2020. “His work is very tedious. He’s not imitating anyone. He is unique in what he does.
“His highly sought‐after work is featured in museums, galleries and private collections across the world. He is also respected for using his artistic voice to promote positive change in the community. We welcome him to historic Leimert Park.”
Recognized for his use of vibrant colors and larger‐than‐life interpretation of contemporary subjects, this collection is a survey of Bibbs’ creative journey spanning decades. Bibbs’ style reflects a deep sense of spirituality and connection to his cultural heritage.
Before an appreciative crowd of art enthusiasts, Bibbs, accompanied by Elaine, his wife of 52 years, discussed his strategy, his approach to the business of art and his latest exhibit.
“The exhibit is a way of looking at expressive art done in languages only art can tell or express,” said Bibbs. “You don’t have to have words to express what’s in the art. Art looks into the soul of people and brings it out — whether it’s hate, love or fear. It covers all of those expressions of human nature.”
A visual artist, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Bibbs, most recognized for his artistic renderings that convey a deep sense of majesty, dignity, spirituality, strength and grace, said most of his work has a back story.
“It comes through — based on what you see in your own environment,” said Bibbs, who honed his craft while working at Boeing, Ralston Purina and Mattel. “You have to make sure you don’t try to answer questions. You have to let people see on their own — so they can find their own answers.
“I have a way of breaking things down. I do people in patterns, hence the name of the exhibit. The patterns have different stories. You have to decide what the story is.
“We all wear a cloak. The patterns on our cloak represent our life. It’s about doing things in artistic ways that are pleasing to the eye. There can be patterns of hope and of hate. The question is, ‘How can you envision your patterns of life?”
To prepare himself to paint, Bibbs said he simply sits down.
“That’s all I do,” he said. “You just sit down in front of a blank canvas and you just start free will. Just start creating. A lot of times life will bring you things to say and give you the inspiration to paint life itself.”
Pearl Sharp, who was in attendance, has been a fan of Bibbs’ work for more than 30 years. She attended the reception because she wanted to hear him talk about his work.
“I never heard him talk about his work before,” said Sharp, who currently has a poetry video called Blood Bank on YouTube. “I came because I wanted to know why he does swans in so many of his pieces. I really appreciate his work.”
Bibbs told the crowd, “I love using nature in my pieces.”
“If I would be anything in nature, I’d be a bird,” he said. “Birds represent freedom. That’s why they are represented so frequently in my work.”
“It’s also because birds represent grace and beauty,” said his wife, Elaine Bibbs.
Dorothy Randall Gray, a native New Yorker who now lives in Los Angeles, has several pieces of Bibbs’ art and looks forward to buying more.
“I’ve been following his work for a while,” she said. “I’m such a fan. I really like his unique style.”
During the reception, Bibbs announced the creation and launch of “The Charles A. Bibbs African American Museum and Cultural Center,” set to open in Riverside.
“This is exciting, I’m honored,” Bibbs said. “This isn’t just about me. There will be other artists represented in the museum as well, especially young artists. I want this to be a place, a destination you can go to and celebrate who we are as a culture and as a people.”
Janice Rooth, president of the museum and cultural center, said Bibbs was deserving of the honor.
“He definitely deserves it,” Rooth said. “Charles lives in Riverside. He’s well known. He’s always been active in the community. His art speaks for itself.
“Before he agreed to it, though, he wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to be a museum that only displayed his art. He wanted it to be for all artists to be able to showcase their work.”
Rooth explained how Bibbs came to have a museum named in his honor.
“He was being honored in City Hall for his art and his community work,” she said. “Ironically, his response was to tell City Hall they weren’t doing enough to support African-American artists. So, the next week the city manager said, ‘What about a Charles A. Bibbs Museum and we can call it The Bibbs?’ It was like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ That’s how that came about.”
The Charles A. Bibbs African American Museum and Cultural Center is set to open in downtown Riverside in June.
A prolific artist, Bibbs said he still has a lot of art inside of him.
“Art is a gift,” he said. “It’s given to us. It comes naturally. I’ll continue to be creative as long as I can breathe and use this right hand and have a good mind and see and comprehend my surroundings.
“My most important goal is to make profound aesthetic statements that are ethnically rooted, and at the same time arouse spiritual emotions within us.”
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.