Museum of the Gulf Coast unveiling Janis Joplin replica painting

Published 12:20 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

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A replica of a large painting by Janis Joplin from one-time Port Arthur resident Rebecca Wood (Becky Hall) was recently donated to The Museum of the Gulf Coast.

An unveiling of the piece is planned in the Music Gallery at the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur June 7, starting at 3:30 pm, where it will be permanently displayed.

Wood will be in attendance at the unveiling. She has described the large reproduction as “nearly indistinguishable” from the original.

The Purple Painting by Janis Joplin. (Courtesy photo)

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Janis Joplin left Port Arthur after graduating from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1960 and returned from San Francisco in 1965.

She enrolled at Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont (now Lamar University), majoring in anthropology.

While attending classes, Joplin reconnected with Rebecca’s mother, Ruth Hall, whom she had met through a mutual friend, Karleen Bennett, in high school.

Ruth was also attending classes at Lamar, and they began commuting together.

Seventeen years Joplin’s senior, Hall’s home was a gathering place for residents of Port Arthur who were sometimes labeled as black sheep, bohemians and beatniks.

On one of her visits, Ruth learned that Janis needed some money and commissioned Joplin to create a painting for her.

Purple coincidentally was Ruth’s and Janis’ favorite color.

The only time the original has been shown, Janis’ sister, Laura Joplin, orchestrated its inclusion in an exhibit titled “Strange Kozmic Experience: The Doors, Janis Joplin & Jimi Hendrix” which was mounted at three locations, including the Grammy Museum operated by the Recording Academy of the United States.

The reproduction itself is large and impressive at 5 x 3 feet, which is also the size of the original.

Wood refers to the painting as “The Purple Painting.” She believes Janis may have named it “Two Ladies playing Bridge.”

Joplin painted it on the back of a piece of Masonite, and the texture of the surface is noticeable if you are aware of what she painted it on.

“Janis Joplin was a gifted artist, and the Purple Painting represents one of her finest works,” curator Robert Fong said.

Director Tom Neal said the museum is “very grateful to Rebecca for this generous donation and look forward to its inclusion in our Janis Joplin permanent exhibit.”

In May of 1966, Chet Helms, a promoter who was managing a new band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, recruited Joplin to return to Haight-Ashbury.

She abruptly left Port Arthur, and only 13 months later, Janis Joplin and Big Brother stepped onto the stage at the Monterey Pop Festival and made rock and roll history.

More details concerning the provenance of the painting can be found at