One in a series of articles looking at local artists who are contributors to Atlantic City’s 48 Blocks mural project.
ATLANTIC CITY — On a drab block of South Carolina Avenue between Atlantic and Pacific avenues, a mural created by local artist Charles Barbin brings a touch of liveliness to a somewhat neglected neighborhood crying out for a little TLC.
Barbin, of Brigantine, created his “Close Encounters Jellyfish” piece in 2018 for the Atlantic City Arts Foundation’s 48 Blocks Atlantic City mural program to beautify the community’s block.
Barbin, 43, who is a full-time artist and muralist, painted the aquatic-themed scene on the side of an abandoned building in about a month, using a mix of spray paint and exterior paint. Barbin said he chose the jellyfish theme because the fish’s unique range of forms and shapes gave him something with which to play.
People are also reading…
“I wanted to make something that people are usually repulsed by,” said Barbin, who considers himself “an abstract expressionist by trade,” but has recently been experimenting with more recognizable imagery. He said he likes creating art from subjects that tend to intimidate people in hopes they will instead see the beauty in those things, despite their off-putting nature. Thus, his choice of jellyfish as the subject of his mural of him.
Barbin said his appetite for art has “always been whet,” and that it was only enhanced once he attended the Tyler School of Art and Architecture based at Temple University in Philadelphia. He began creating murals on old buildings straight out of college for the Mural Arts Philadelphia program, which is the nation’s largest public art program, according to the organization’s website. For more than 20 years Barbin has created murals. He is a part of an arts collective of five international artists called Amber Art & Design, to create meaningful public art within marginalized communities with little or no access to art.
Barbin would describe his niche in art as differential mark making, which refers to how lines, patterns and textures are created in a piece. He likes to apply acrylic, latex, oil, spray, and other paints to canvas in different ways while combining multiple techniques to play with varied sizes, shapes and motions for unique artistic concepts. The nine prismatic-colored jellyfish swimming in Barbin’s Atlantic City mural add a spirited aspect to the neighborhood.
Barbin’s abstract art shape shifted into focusing on more aquatic images after he moved back to the area in 2019 and opened the Dunes Art Gallery in Brigantine, where he features and sells his art, the work of other artists, and even offers group or in- private art lessons.
“The art scene’s been steadily picking up,” said Barbin, who as a full-time muralist, creates four to six murals a year all over the area, including Atlantic City, Brigantine and Philadelphia. His most recent work by him can be found on the side of the Pleasantville Bus Station.
“Neighborhoods are getting more responsive to local artists,” he said. “They have respect for the time and effort for what artists do.”
Barbin said art programs such as 48 Blocks make interacting with the community easier and have also been well received by the community and the city, giving artists more opportunities to showcase their art through beautification.
“Local artists all have their own mission. They’re going to make art no matter what,” said Barbin. “Art is continuously growing.”