Troppy’s legacy lives on in art boxes and the local art scene


A quiet private individual but a fairly public artist, Darrell Troppy left a legacy that almost anyone who drives the streets of Beaumont can see every day, and he brightens up the most unlikely of all canvases – the steel gray utility boxes that are now Decorated with brightly colored bouquets, daring design and the poetry of movement.

Troppy likely died on Saturday – Christmas Day – in his art studio of a suspected medical emergency. He was alone, which wasn’t unusual for the 60-year-old who preferred to work at night.

A medico-legal investigation is ongoing.

“He was the target to aim for,” said Greg Busceme Sr., president of The Art Studio of Southeast Texas Inc., of Troppy’s talent as an artist. “He was a role model for me in many ways.”

Busceme founded The Art Studio in 1983 based on Troppy’s example, he said. Troppy, then in his early twenties, was already an established artist, said Busceme.

Becky Ames, former Beaumont mayor who was also the general manager of what was then Victory Hospital on Dowlen Road, said the hospital had commissioned three large Troppy murals to display in its lobby.

As Troppy and his crew dumped the parts, Victory executives saw three more in his van and grabbed them to display in the hospital waiting room.

And when vandals defaced Ames’ campaign signs, Troppy went out and repaired them, turning them into impromptu works of art that left the campaign message intact, Ames said.

“He was a talented, caring guy,” she said.

He also had a flair for whims, as demonstrated when he turned 40 in his studio, which he was converting into a “night club”.

He closed the garage door and suddenly it was night in an intimate club, Ames said.

“He is sorely missed by the art world and his close friends,” she said.

But Troppy wasn’t just a local artist.

His work has appeared in European galleries and his art was honored as a prize winner at the Louvre in Paris.

His idea for the utility box art came about during a visit to Toronto in 2004, which prevailed until he found a friend and supporter in Virginia Jordan who won a seat on the city council and supported the idea.

“When do we start?” Troppy asked her. “Let’s rock and roll!”

In a 2018 profile for the former Beaumont Enterprise VIP magazine, Troppy shared his ideas for painting the utility boxes with author Shelly Vitanza.

Of the three boxes Troppy had painted by then, the third is on Calder Avenue and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway in front of Katharine & Co., facing the residents of the Mildred Building.

The “Greta Garbo-esque” characters on the box are kind of a wave for some of the women who are Mildred Building residents.

At one point in the painting process, according to the VIP article, Troppy noticed that one of his wives had waves, so he grabbed a sander and started over.

He said passers-by were worried about his work, which was mostly done at night and under the spotlights he set up, worried that he would destroy the painting.

He said the process was a humbling experience.

“Homeless people give you their thumbs up and the big bubbas in their trucks who go to shift work say ‘That’s cool’ out the window,” Troppy told VIP.

“I always say ‘thank you’ and that’s very warm because maybe I just left my legacy to beautify the city.”

Dan Wallach is a

freelance writer.


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