An oil painting by the late rock star Janis Joplin was found by a Sunday School teacher recently at first Christian Church on Ninth Avenue.
The painting, “Jesus in Gethsemane” was signed on the back by Janis Lyn Joplin.
According to Yvonne Sutherlin, the church historian and member of the Board of Trustees of the Port Arthur Historical Society, the painting was done by Joplin at the age of 13. It was found in a Sunday school supply cabinet at the church.
“Joplin grew up in this area. She and her family used to go to First Christian when it was in downtown Port Arthur,” Sutherlin said.
The church congregation Tuesday evening presented Joplin’s painting to Dr. Sam Monroe for the Museum of Gulf Coast.
“I am grateful to the church for donating this particular piece of painting to our (museum’s) collection of Janis Joplin paintings,” said Monroe, president of the Port Arthur Historical Society.
“Janis was a multifaceted person. She had goodness in her heart and life…and this painting is an example of that aspect,” Monroe said.
Danny Sessums, curator of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, said he was aware of the existence of Joplin’s “Jesus in Gethsemane” and that he was interested in locating it. Sessums said he was glad when the painting was found.
“What makes this particular painting interesting is that it is one of a number of artistic works by Joplin which are currently displayed in the Museum of Gulf Coast,” Sessums said.
“Her (art) work, as we refer to it, is realism. They cover her whole span of life,” Sessums said.
“As she matures, her work becomes stylistically oriented. It showed how much she was moving into the maturity of visualizing things,” Sessums said, referring to Joplin’s paintings of the crucifixion and nativity scene.
According to Monroe, the Museum of Gulf Coast currently exhibits three of Joplin’s original painting and exact photographs of three other paintings by Joplin.
Though the Port Arthur native was not famous for her artistic ability, Joplin was well known for her blues style rock music and her flamboyant attire and disposition. She died in 1970 of a drug overdose.