Friends, family gather at Art Studio to honor late Beaumont muralist Kimberly Brown, creator of ‘Be Kind’ logo

Dozens of people gathered on a sweltering summer Sunday afternoon at Art Studio Inc. to see a one-woman show that may never be repeated. Artist Kimberly Brown died on August 17, leaving friends and loved ones stunned by her sudden departure.

“Be kind” was Brown’s enduring logo, even though her complicated relationship with this world did not or could not allow kindness to come to her.

Stefan Malik, a professor at Lamar University, recalls his student days at Lamar with Brown while editing articles for the University Press in the old Cardinal’s Nest — “drinking beer, eating pizza, smoking cigarettes.”

“We became friends,” he said Sunday. “It’s great to see everyone together, but for a terrible reason. She meant a lot to a lot of people for a lot of different things.”

Art Studio, 720 Franklin St., was still in its infancy when Brown came to it, in his mid-teens, Art Studio founder Greg Busceme said.

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“It shows all the love she had — how many people cared for her and all the people she touched,” he said, referring to the attendance at the mostly air-conditioned gallery space, where dozens of people admired her work and spoke with hushed tones so different from other discoveries of art.

Artist Ines Alvidres wrote a message on a large “Be Good” poster for people to honor Brown’s memory.

“I admired her work ethic,” Alvidres said, specifically mentioning the kind of dedication it takes for a muralist to work outside in Southeast Texas.

“I would get her a Mexican soda or a Topo Chico so I could check what she was doing,” Alvidres said. “Look at the size of her murals! I have great respect for her. We need more like her to make Beaumont better.”

Architect Rob Clark admired the scope of Brown’s work.

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“And she affected a large number of people in Beaumont,” he said, commenting on the crowd that gathered to honor her memory.

Karen Whisenhunt Saar, a speech therapist, said she enjoyed every conversation she had with Brown on a wide range of topics.

“She’s going to enjoy this activity,” Saar said.

Brown’s son Cameron called it an “outburst of love.”

Jacob Willis, a financier banker, may have the last mural done by Brown in his home.

“When I travel I always take a day to shoot images of murals and we went through them all and came up with a design. I’ve known her for years through art and music. I admire the amount of creativity, love and acceptance that was in one little body,” he said.

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Barbara Wilson, who owns and operates BAW Resale at 1096 Calder Ave., has a Brown mural to call her own.

Shaped like “Believe in Beaumont” with the “409” in an outline of Texas, Wilson said Brown’s “Be Good” logo is what the world still needs.

“She tried to practice it herself,” Wilson said.

Writer Marilyn Tennysen recalled her friendship with Brown from the former Carlo’s restaurant on Calder Avenue. As Brown sat at the bar talking to another woman, the other woman pulled back and punched Brown—not a slap, but a real punch, sending her Tina Fey-esque glasses flying. Comedian Fey was once a fixture on Saturday Night Live, and Brown loved her.

“I took her glasses,” Tennysen said, and they became friends.

“She was also very intelligent and had great interests. He had a strong work ethic and took his work and assignments seriously,” Tennysen said.

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In the days before her death, Donna Rae Cranveldge-Whisor and Maribeth Jones noted their frustration in trying to reunite with her. They just kept missing.

On her Facebook account, Krenvelge-Wizor wrote this after her friend’s death:

“Don’t forget to play this

In my backyard

with Axle’s guitar?

Your voice was ethereal.

We danced in the rain

Around a fire.

He danced in the rain around a fire.

He danced in the rain around a fire.

They danced in the rain around a fire.”

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