PHOTO GALLERY — The Breeze unveils paintings of local artists that will be installed this week

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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Frederico Breaux sat in the front row of the stands at the Pavilion Tuesday as a painting of her late husband was unveiled.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “That’s his album cover. It’s always wonderful that Port Arthur still recognizes him.”

Zachary Breaux was a jazz musician who attended Lincoln High School before touring worldwide. He died in 1997 while vacationing in Florida when he attempted to save a drowning woman.

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While he was only 36, it wasn’t the first time the Port Arthur native risked his life for another. In 1988, he saved a drowning man in Italy. Sadly, during his final attempt to save another, he suffered a fatal heart attack.

Breaux was remembered and paid tribute to as one of eight paintings unveiled this week during the “Expressions of Hope” art exhibit.

“It’s wonderful,” Manueal Breaux, Zachary’s brother, said while filming the unveiling. “It’s amazing.”

Tuesday’s exhibit marked the end of a project that began last year by KSAP 96.6 The Breeze founder Stephen Mosely.

The longtime proponent of public radio wanted to inspire local youth by painting the outside walls of the radio station with artists who either hailed from or greatly influenced Port Arthur.

He commissioned Groves artist Juan Esparza to create the artwork; however, the walls were too porous for paint.

Instead, Esparza painted on four-by-eight feet canvases scheduled to be mounted to the outside walls of the radio station at 9:30 a.m. today.

In addition to Breaux, artists who will adorn the walls of the 5th Street building are:

  • J. Chenier, 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.
  • 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.
  • “The King of Swing” TUCKA, who grew up in Louisiana
  • 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.
  • 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.

Mosely said Tuesday that when they requested rights to paint Joplin, those who owned the rights to her image asked for a video of Esparza creating the art.

“I don’t know if they were trying to figure out if we were for real or knew what we were doing or what…so we had Juan painting Janis Joplin in the studio while his art was being recorded.

“After we sent it to them and they took a look at it, they called us back and eagerly said they wanted us to record the entire event — today and tomorrow,” Mosely told audience members. “Some of you may show up in a movie about Janis Joplin, or any of our artists that we present to you today.”

One by one, with family members and friends among those in the audience, the canvases were introduced to the crowd.

“Today, ladies and gentlemen, I hope that…when you see these paintings, they will appeal to you how they appeal to me,” Mosely said.

Each painting has at least one sponsor: The Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, Community In-Power and Development Association, Valero, Clifftown Entertainment/Clifton E. Williams Sr., family and friends of Paul Orta, the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Geraldine Hunt, Roosevelt Petry Jr. and Port Arthur LNG.