Mural project at The Breeze in Port Arthur nears unveiling

Published 12:40 am Tuesday, May 2, 2023

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As Groves artist Juan Esparza created the eight paintings for “Expressions of Hope,” he would listen to music by the featured artists to gain inspiration.

“I feel honored to be part of it, these iconic artists,” he said. “It was a privilege and an honor.”

Stephen Mosely, founder of KSAP 96.6 The Breeze, commissioned Esparza in late 2022 to create the project dubbed “Expressions of Hope.”

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“It’s something to give our youngsters that we worked with in the past and future an opportunity to see that — if they work hard, produce and be consistent in their craft — they may end up being someone recognized in the future,” Mosely said.

Originally Mosely wanted to paint directly on the outside walls of the building on 5th Street in Port Arthur, but they were too porous to hold the paint.

KSAP founder Stephen Mosely shows how the eight four-by-eight paintings that will de displayed outside the radio station. (Monique Batson/The News)

Instead, they decided to create four-by-eight paintings to adorn the outside walls.

Each is significant to Port Arthur in some way.

  • C.J. Chenier is the son of King of Zydeco Clifton Chenier. According to the Museum of the Gulf Coast, the younger Chenier grew up in Port Arthur, where he played in Top 40 bands as a teenager. He first played with his father on his 21st birthday, and upon Clifton Chenier’s death in 1987, C.J. Chenier began leading the Red Hot Louisiana Band as his father had.
  • Zachary Breaux was a jazz musician who attended Lincoln High School before touring worldwide. Breaux died in 1997 while vacationing in Florida when he attempted to save a drowning woman.
  • 1st Lt. Adam E. Simpson Jr. was the first man from Port Arthur to die in the Vietnam War. In 2021, a plaque honoring him was unveiled at The Pavilion. Simpson was a drum major in high school. His painting will show him in his uniform.
  • Paul Orta, of Port Arthur, was a harmonica player and “global blues legend,” according to his 2019 obituary.
  • Beaumont native Barbara Lynn co-wrote her first song, “You’ll lose a good thing,” which reached no. 1. According to information from the Museum, she toured with musical legends Gladys Knight, James Brown and Marvin Gaye.
  • The Sugar Shack is an iconic painting by a North Carolina artist.
  • Port Arthur native Janis Joplin was “probably the most powerful singer to emerge from the white rock movement,” as she was called by Time Magazine.
  • The Breeze Players is a logo used by the radio station of silhouetted musicians.

Each painting was created to have a sponsor in mind, with that person or organization’s name displayed on the bottom.

Current sponsors include The Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, Community In-Power and Development Association, Spindletop Concrete, Clifftown Entertainment and Valero.

Still needing sponsors are Paul Orta, Barbara Lynn and Janis Joplin.

Mosely hopes to have an unveiling ceremony where they undrape each painting individually while playing that person’s music, give a short bio and, hopefully, have members of the musician’s family on hand.

Esparza said it took approximately two weeks to complete each piece. And, while they were all difficult, he said they’re all his favorite.

To sponsor a painting, call 409-982-9029.

The Breeze is owned by the Truth and Education Corporation, which is a 501(c)3.