The Tiberino family has been called “The West Philly Wyeths”: Ellen Powell, Joseph, Raphael, Gabriel and Ellen Tiberino have been creating art in the Philadelphia community for over five decades. Distinguished Philadelphia art institutions such as the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the University of the Arts and the Mural Arts Program have held significant roles in developing the talents within this family. Each of these artists possesses a unique creative voice — Ellen Powell’s powerful portraits, Joseph’s expressionist figurative paintings, Raphael’s graphic drawings, Gabriel's paintings of the city and Ellen Tiberino’s ceramic and stained glass sculptures.
The Tiberinos are very passionate about the creation of art, and are now producing a documentary that gives an account of the history of the family, their artwork and how they have influenced and impacted the artist community inside and out of Philadelphia.
“We are presently making a feature documentary film called 'Tiberino,' our family surname,” said Joseph Tiberino, 75. “It shows the 50-year history of a family of six visual artists: myself, my wife, Ellen Powell Tiberino, and our four children — Raphael, Leonardo, Ellen and Gabriel. We have gone through thousands of photos, reproductions of works of art, TV interviews, newspaper articles, sections of film that have been produced through the museum.”
The Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum was established in 1999 to celebrate the life and career of Ellen Powell Tiberino (1937-1992). The museum compound in West Philadelphia’s Powelton Village neighborhood consists of five art-filled houses with three chapels, murals and a common courtyard. The Tiberinos’ documentary seeks to show their lives as artists, and how they have transformed their Powelton Village home into a museum that houses not only their work, but also the works of over 30 other artists.
“There is so much art here, and the fact that it hasn't really hit that level where it's on everyone's radar,” noted eldest son, Raphael. “It's , actually — and the only way you can make that happen is by creating more and more, and that's what we're doing.”
This is a family of kindred spirits bonded not only by blood, but by a passion for connecting art and life. In their 50-year history of creating art, they have also contributed to beautifying Philadelphia by working with the Mural Arts Program on several murals throughout the city. Currently they are involved in the creation of a five-panel mural that will be placed on the facade of the Municipal Services Building in the heart of the city. The Tiberinos intend to continue establishing their legacy through the documentary and look forward to creating more art in the years to come.
Currently, the trailer for the film can be seen online via the Kickstarter campaign that the Tiberinos have launched in order to raise funds needed to complete the project. Expected to be completed in 2013, “Tiberino” has already garnered high-profile attention from Pennsylvania's ex-Gov. Ed Rendell, who has agreed to narrate the film.
For more information, visit www.tiberinomuseum.org.