A welcome from our Founder: Eugene Grigsby, Jr. Chair Emeritus
In the late 1970´s and early 80´s I believed along with many other Artist that we in Arizona as well as the rest of the United States were losing tract of the importance of art in our communities and more specifically the role and contributions that African and African American Art had played in all of our histories. I saw that it was important to find ways to ensure that this history of Art be valued, preserved and continued. Thus COBA was founded with its mission being to promote an “Understanding and Support for African and African American arts and artist”.
For over twenty years I along with COBA’s members and its many sponsors have dedicated ourselves to this vision, and have done so through the creation of, the Inner-city/Multicultural Invitational Madeline Hardy Youth Art Exhibits for high school students and with the many scholarships we have provided for our youth to further their education. COBA partnered with Artist of the Black Community/AZ (ABC/AZ) to strengthen support of the mission. I am extremely proud of the work that COBA has done and welcome you to our website. I would also like to extend an invitation to you to participate with us in our mission. There are many ways that you can play a role, be it as a volunteer, donor or sponsor (see our donation page)
Larry Wilson Obituary
July 10, 1950 – April 27, 2013
Larry Wilson was born in Phoenix, Arizona on July 10, 1950 to Gadlee and Geneva L. Wilson. As a third generation Phoenician, Larry attended Longfellow Elementary and Booker T. Washington grade schools. Never one to meet a stranger, Larry maintained friendships dating back to his grade school years.
During his years at Phoenix Union High School, Larry received many awards and recognition as a student in his vocational technical commercial art class during his sophomore, junior and senior years.
Growing up in Arizona, Larry was always fascinated with the beautiful sunsets and mountains. As an artist, Larry’s love of drawing can be seen in his beautiful and colorful pictures of the desert landscape.
Looking to enhance his natural talent as an artist, Larry attended Arizona State University, where he studied Painting and Drawing in the Bachelor’s Degree Program. Larry’s art education helped him secure a job with the City of Phoenix as a Visual Arts Coordinator. Larry was hired to oversee an adult class program which offered classes in ceramics, photography, painting, drawing and metals. Certified in aquatics, Larry also served as a lifeguard and swimming instructor with the City of Phoenix.
A founding member of Art Link, TRI-ART and Art Detour, Larry was also one of the founders of First Friday’s which is a self-guided art walk for all of the Phoenix downtown art spaces and galleries which has grown significantly since its inception. A member of the Consortium of Black Artists (COBA) and founder of the ABC (Artist of the Black Community) Larry also enjoyed teaching art classes to senior citizens as well as children. Larry further used his talents to develop a small business “Wilson Originals”, Inc.
Two annual exhibitions created by Larry for Latino and African American artists, “Arte Latino en la Ciudad” and “African Vibes of the City” have grown to be some of the largest in the Phoenix area.
After 42 years of service with the City of Phoenix, Larry retired as the Director of the Visual Arts Department. Never one to sit idle, Larry continued teaching art classes in his retirement years throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan area and Tempe.
Known for his bigger than life paintings of celebrities and scratch board creations, Larry’s work has been displayed in many galleries and homes around the City of Phoenix and in Atlanta, Georgia. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Larry also held offices in the “Men of Presence” Usher Board of First Institutional Baptist Church and the African American Advisory Committee for the Tempe History Museum. Larry was more than generous with his gifts and talents and frequently donated his work for worthwhile causes to such civic organizations as the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Links, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, etc
Larry will be remembered for his love of others, his infectious smile and his unselfish contribution to the Phoenix community. His deep love of God and unwavering faith made Larry a man everyone felt honored to know.
Larry is preceeded in death by his sister Dorothy Wilson. He is survived by Princess, his loving and devoted wife of 29 years, his son Princeton Johnathan; brothers Lester Wilson, Rochelle (Marlene) Wilson; sisters Carolyn Wilson, Jackie Onyia, Benita Wilson and Margo Wilson; nieces and nephews and a host of other family and friends.
Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.