JANIS JOPLIN — Brilliance expands with her own replica painting displayed at the Museum of the Gulf Coast

Published 12:20 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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The Museum of the Gulf Coast unveiled a replica of a large painting by Janis Joplin from one-time Port Arthur resident Rebecca Wood (Becky Hall) at the Museum of the Gulf Coast.

The only time the original has been shown to the public was in an exhibit called “Strange Kozmic Experience: The Doors, Janis Joplin & Jimi Hendrix,” which was shown at three locations, including the Grammy Museum operated by the Recording Academy of the United States.

“We’re very thrilled,” curator Robert Fong said. “Janis is an artist. She’s an artist musically, but she was also a visual artist. We are really excited that when people come to see Janis, that her artistic abilities will be on full display.”

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Rebecca Wood says the painting has been in the family for 50 years and she now finally got the digital file to make the reproductions.

This piece was made for Wood’s mother, Ruth Hall, by Janis Joplin. Ruth learned Janis needed some money and paid Joplin to create the painting for her.

To Wood, this painting connects her to her mother, who passed away when Wood was 13, but also Port Arthur.

“I just loved her (Janis Joplin) as an adult, as a teenager,” Wood said. “I think the painting, I knew that she did it, but it was more something that was my mom’s. Our history here in Port Arthur was more than I realized.”

Janis Joplin is just one of many artists to come out of Port Arthur, but arguably the most notable.

Robert Fong says Port Arthur is a hidden musical gem and is not surprised Joplin is from the city.

“We’re honored to be here, to be representing Port Arthur in this way,” Fong said. “Port Arthur is a hidden musical gem. A lot of people don’t know about it, but when you come here and you see all the amazing people that came out of Port Arthur, musically, it makes more sense that Janis also came from Port Arthur, came out of this area and went on to impress people all over the world with her artistry.”

To many this may be just another painting, but to the Port Arthur community, the painting is an important part of the city’s history, organizers said.

Museum Director Tom Neal wants local children to understand they can also be as big as Joplin and the other notable figures the museum showcases.

“We know the adults are going to get it,” Neal said. “But we want the kids to understand that all these people, everybody tells them, ‘Oh, you can do all these wonderful things, you can go ahead and apply yourself.’ Well we have over 230 examples of people that actually came from this area, and so we tell the kids to learn from their mistakes, learn from things they did well.”

Wood says educating the children gives more meaning to Joplin’s life, other than music.

“It’s good to hear you say that y’all are educating children a lot, because then her life really means a lot more than just her music, to me, anyway,” she said.

The painting, along with many other treasures, are displayed in the Music Gallery at the Museum of the Gulf Coast.

— Reported by Brian Quijada