Janis Lyn Joplin was born January 19, 1943 and died October 4, 1970. In between she led a triumphant and tumultuous life blessed by an innate talent to convey powerful emotion through heart-stomping rock-and-roll singing. Born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas, a small Southern petroleum industry town, she gravitated to artistic interests cultivated by parents Seth and Dorothy Joplin.
Janis broke with local social traditions during the tense days of racial integration, standing up for the rights of African Americans whose segregated status in her hometown seared her youthful ideals. Along with fellow band beatnik-reading high school students, she pursued the non-traditional via the visual arts and literature, Janis was especially taken with the blues. Discovering an inborn talent to belt the blues, Janis began copying the styles of Bessie Smith, Odetta and Leadbelly. She played the coffee houses and hootenannies of the day in the small towns of Texas. She later ventured to the beatnik haunts of Venice, North Beach and the Village in New York, eventually landing in Austin, Texas as a student at the University of Texas. This is the point in her life that some of her most memorable paintings were done, especially the series done in the student union.
Returning home for a year to question her life direction, she excelled at college but was never content. When old Austin friend, Chet Helms, then in San Francisco, called to offer her a singing audition with an up-and-coming local group, Janis was tempted. She found a vital San Francisco community, turned upside down by the flower children of 1966, and was offered the singing position in a relatively obscure group called “Big Brother and the Holding Company.”
Big Brother played in the Bay area and up and down the California coast, to ever-increasing enthusiasm for their unique brand of psychedelic rock. Then during the summer of 1967–the “Summer of Love”–Big Brother played a large concert, The Monterey International Pop Festival. Janis smashed through her anonymity with Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain” and the world took note.
Their “Cheap Thrills” album was released in August, 1968 and soon went gold, presenting the hits “Piece of My heart” and “Summertime.” The band was playing to large audiences, for big fees, and the billing now read “Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company.” However at the same time drugs began affecting their performing and work relationships and in Christmas of 1968, the group played its last gig together.
Janis formed a new group, oriented more toward blues and released a new album “I Got Dem ‘Ol Kozmic Blues Again, Mama” in September of 1969. In the U.S., mixed reviews greeted the new sound but in Europe the group was welcomed with loudly enthusiastic praise. Finally recognizing the problems in her life, Janis quit her drug use. She formed a third band, called Full Tilt Boogie Band, which evolved more professional popular sound. Janis felt she’d finally found her unique style of white blues. She was never happier with her new music. While recording her next album “Pearl,” she chanced into using heroin again. Obtaining a dose more pure than usual, she accidentally overdosed in a motel in Los Angeles at the age of 27. Her third album was released posthumously to wide acclaim, launching the popular songs “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Mercedes Benz.”
Janis’s albums have gone gold, platinum, and triple-platinum. Her “Greatest Hits” album still tops the charts in Billboard. Several new releases have followed her death, with wide acclaim for her boxed set, “Janis.” She was the subject of a 1973 feature documentary, “Janis,” and numerous TV documentaries, the most notable being VH-1’s Legends program.
Janis Joplin was like a red hot burning ember. Very bright and powerful but short lived. In the few years that she was with us on a public stage we were constantly awed at her talent. Now, close to 40 years since her untimely death, her music and persona still top the charts. The legacy of Janis is stronger now than ever. Like many extremely talented people ,Janis was proficient in other fields as well as singing and performing.
We now are once again blown away when we see that she was also a very accomplished visual artist. Although the body of work that she did in those few years is limited, the works show us a very talented artist that was able to achieve a strong communication in her paintings and drawings.
Area arts, working closely with The Joplin Family and professional archivists, has painstakingly restored Janis’ original paintings and drawings and used the images to create beautiful estate signed and stamped limited editions. Each piece is hand signed by Michael Joplin, Janis’ brother, and officially stamped with Janis’ signature.
Janis’ first love was art and fashion design. She once quipped to brother, very early in her singing career, that she only did the singing gigs to help pay for art supplies.
The edition sizes are 750 Estate signed + APs & Roman Numerals.
All works are accompanied with a certificate of authenticity from the Joplin Estate