Portrait of Two Artists: Janis Joplin and Kimberly Brown
Janis Joplin by Muralist, Kimberly Brown
Kimberly Brown and Janis Joplin go way back. Technically, the native Queen of Rock-n-Roll legend, Janis Joplin, passed years before we were blessed with artist Kimberly Brown. But Brown was born in the same Port Arthur hospital as Joplin. In the very same hospital room, according to her mother.
Growing Up Near Janis’ Hometown
Naturally, Brown grew up with Janis Joplin’s music, history and local lore. Like Joplin, she also showed early signs of creative ambitions. At the tender age of 14, she attended an art opening at The Art Studio, Inc. in downtown Beaumont. She returned within three business days as a bonified art apprentice. That was more than 30 years ago, and she’s never looked back.
If you’ve been in Southeast Texas long, you’ve surely spotted Kimberly’s art on buildings, businesses and canvases. The Joplin Mural is her latest contribution to the art scene in our corner of Texas.
I asked which was her favorite mural to date, and she responded without hesitation. “It’s Frida. Always Frida Kahlo.” Kahlo is considered one of Mexico’s greatest artists, renowned for self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colors. Brown is also drawn to vibrant color palettes layered atop exquisite, modern design with a flare for strong female voices and their colorful stories.
Kimberly, the artist
Spending time with Brown at work, you immediately sense her dynamic and powerful persona. I found her clad in a new uniform. It’s a familiar one with a history that precedes any living artist today. The painter’s whites only add to her already identifiable aesthetic: natural, curly hair paired with chunky, dark rimmed glasses. She looks smart and serious. But Brown is also feminine, kind and open to welcoming others into her process. Equal parts strength and vulnerability. Equal parts artist and woman. In these ways, she is much like Janis and Frida.
Janis For All
Find the completed Janis Joplin Mural at the Ben J Rogers Regional Visitors Center at Ford Park. The center welcomes more than 65,000 visitors a year. We know the Joplin mural will draw fans of all ages to snap a photo by this rock legend while playing an old favorite on the nearby jukebox.
Whether commissioned or self-sponsored, hidden away in her art studio or plastered on public buildings, we’re thankful for her contributions to art in Southeast Texas. For more on Kimberly Brown and her work, visit her Instagram.
Here is a quick look at her other local projects:
- Frida Kahlo
- The Art Studio, Inc
- Pour Brother’s Brewery
- Pig Stand
- Cattail Marsh Mural
- Update to this story: The local arts community has mourned the loss of Kimberly Brown, who died unexpectedly in August of 2022.
By Callie Summerlin, Marketing Director and art enthusiast.