GALLERY — Janis Joplin mural underway at Visitors Center

Published 12:31 am Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Ben J. Rogers Regional Visitors Center is about to have a lot more of Janis Joplin than just a piece of her heart, as this week a local artist began construction of a huge wall mural celebrating the late Port Arthur musician.

“We have so many people — especially our international visitors — they want to know about Janis,” said Kathi Hughes, director of the center. “She’s one of our biggest draws here. It’s crazy how that is, but it’s so fun.”

Hughes said while Southeast Texans often know her for some negative aspects, that’s not what her legacy is about.

“She’s celebrated for her music,” Hughes said.

It’s music that can be heard from a jukebox in the center next to a wall that will soon hold a large, vibrant mural of Joplin.

Beaumont native Kimberly Brown began working on the large piece of art, which was originally designed and painted as part of a contest for Lowe’s. Brown was hired to paint a mural at the Port Arthur store, but it was removed because of copyright concerns. And while she will soon return to Lowe’s to paint a different mural, the old one found a new home fast.

It was publicity over the Lowe’s mural that prompted the Visitor’s Center to contact Brown to do a mural in the building.

“The lady that hired me here said she had seen (an) article…about it and she just loved Janis and she wishes she could have it here,” Brown said. “And I was like, strange turn of events, that one no longer exists so you can have that Janis.”

But Brown knows quite a bit about her subject.

“I was born in Port Arthur at St. Mary’s, the same hospital she was born,” Brown said. “I’ve always been a fan of her music, her style and her non-conformity.”

Local Art

While she dabbled in art while at West Brook High School, Brown didn’t get heavily involved until college.

“I started dating an artist and got involved in the art scene,” she recalled.

Her first local piece was done on Port Neches Avenue.

“When I posted it on social media, jobs started coming in left and right,” Brown said.

She’s since completed multiple murals on Port Neches Avenue, including the sides of The Cherry Tree Florist and The Crow’s Nest. She has a mural at Cattail Marsh in Beaumont and painted the Calder Street mural of the iconic Pig Stand.

Brown uses Photoshop to create her images and then projects them onto the wall to draw.

“I’m not very good at drawing,” she said, “but I can paint.”