Who says history is serious?
The 14-foot gator sculpture honoring pop art icon Robert Rauschenberg is seriously fun. It now lives in front of Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur, where the artist grew up.
Be sure to strike a pose with this 2,000-pound gator, who will stay still longer than the live alligators who love our Southeast Texas marshes and Sea Rim State Park. You might spot one of those while birding the Port Arthur area.
Museum of the Gulf Coast tells the extraordinary history of the upper Gulf Coast region with an amazing scope of exhibits, including tributes to hometown legends from Janis Joplin to Jimmy Johnson. Mixing history with popular culture, it offers a memorable experience for all ages.
Tom Neal, museum director, said the alligator is painted in the style of world-renown “Father of Abstract Expressionism” Robert Rauschenberg. Some refer to him as “Pop Art.” The museum includes a gallery of this artists work including his Grammy Award-winning album design for “Speaking in Tongues” by the “Talking Heads.”
“As a child, he painted his version of an alligator on the back of his parent’s white house and took a picture. The picture and the story behind it surfaced many years later on a Centennial Poster that Robert produced for his hometown of Port Arthur, Texas,” Neal said.
“Thanks to the Worsham family, who made the acquisition possible, we added the ‘Rauschenberg’ Alligator outside at our front entrance for Museum patrons to enjoy and use as a photo icon to take pictures with as a reminder of their visit with us,” Neal said. “We attract visitors from all over the world and all of the 50 states.”
More on the museum:
- The first floor uses traditional themes to interpret the natural history of the Gulf Coast from pre-historic fossils to the incredibly diverse flora and fauna of today.
- The Texas Navy and Maritime Exhibit interprets and displays the tremendous impact the waterways have and continue to impact Texas and the immediate area.
- Exhibits also highlight the traces that humans have left on the Gulf Coast from the Paleo-Indians to European/African contact, the Hispanic legacy, pioneer settlement and the trauma of Civil War. The modern age is represented by exhibits featuring the post-war economic and cultural boom known as the Progressive Era, a time in which the discovery of oil and the building of rail and waterways transformed the region and integrated the Gulf Coast into the broader national/international community.
- The mezzanine presents unique popular culture exhibits focusing on the rich musical heritage of the Gulf Coast with performers like Janis Joplin, George Jones, Gatemouth Brown, Johnny & Edgar Winter and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.
- Sports enthusiasts will find displays that chronicle the lives of athletes such as Babe Zaharias, Jimmy Johnson, Bubba Smith and Bum & Wade Phillips. The Museum also boasts several fine and decorative art exhibits including the Robert Rauschenberg Gallery.