Artist Chris Brown honors Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductees through portraits
Published 12:10 am Wednesday, June 7, 2023
BY KALLIE BOURGEOIS
NATCHITOCHES – Since 2009, artist Chris Brown has poured his heart and soul into painting portraits for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inductees each year.
Brown is a former Chicago Cubs minor league pitcher, Northwestern State Demon, and Cowley Tiger who displays his passion for sports through artwork. He has been the official artist for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, located in Natchitoches, since 2009. He has created over 150 portraits for the LSHOF as well as numerous paintings for private collectors around the world. In 2019 and 2020, he was featured in Beckett Magazine as one of the top sports artists in the United States.
Each portrait Brown creates is unique, not just because of the person it focuses on, but because the background that showcases each inductee’s success. The background includes something from their sport; this could be action shots or logos from their teams. He says it takes him anywhere between 12 to 20 hours to complete each one. But before he starts the piece, he needs to conduct research and have discussions with his subjects before even beginning the piece.
One of the inductees this year, Norco resident Lori Lyons, was the subject of one of Brown’s portraits this year. She will be inducted into the LSHOF in July and was selected to receive the 2022 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism. Brown says her accomplishments give you a glimpse of how good of a journalist she is. She spent 26 years at The Times-Picayune, winning LSWA Prep Writer of the Year twice and became the second ever female president of LSWA’s president. Lyons then spent one year as sports editor for L’OBSERVATEUR and as a freelancer for more than a dozen years for various publications and websites. She is also a published author with her autobiography about her journey from infertility to adoption called “Adopting in America: The Diary of a Mom in Waiting” and is also an avid blogger as she shares her life’s adventures at: www.thelyonsdin.com. After retiring from sports writing, Lyons joined the staff at Riverside Academy. She currently teaches middle school creative writing, high school multimedia, web design, journalism, and is the advisor for the Rebel Express.
“The state produces some of the best athletes in the country and some of the best sports journalists in the country, and that is the case with Lori Lyons,” according to Brown. “Quite simply, she is one of the best in the country at what she does.”
“He has painted the best of the best. You have to be a Hall of Famer to be painted by him — or have money to commission him,” Lyons said. “Plus, over the years I have gotten to know him. I know how much work — and love — he puts into these portraits. My mom was a painter and I know it’s not easy. It is an incredible honor to have him paint me.”
Brown paints for a couple of reasons. When he was very young, he went through a lot with my family and art served as a form of therapy for him.
“Once I started getting good at it and getting praised for it at school it gave me a positive influence in my life that I really needed,” Brown said. “Now that I’m an adult artist, I create for the sheer joy of creating something that didn’t exist before. Getting to create a likeness of someone to celebrate their amazing achievements is a reward in itself.”
Over time, Brown realized that being inducted hits home and becomes something real for the inductees when he calls them to start working on their portrait. When he shows the inductees their portrait for the first time on display in the Museum it means that their accomplishments are appreciated at the highest level.
“Their likeness is now hanging with the best of the best in the sports in the state of Louisiana,” stated Brown. “Actually, if you look at the list of inductees, you’ll also realize it’s the best of the best in the country.”