Communicating Through Art

Pete Hosp passed away in October 2017, but his legacy as a pillar of the Frisco community lives on, so much so that local artist Zahra Jahanyfard recently memorialized him in a portrait, which is now on display at the Frisco Heritage Museum. While Ms. Jahanyfard never met Mr. Hosp, she says she wanted to find a way to honor him and his family.

Mr. Hosp and his wife, Gracie, settled in Frisco in 1957, and went on to raise their children here and became instrumental in developing the community. Over his lifetime, Mr. Hosp served on City Council, the School Board and multiple committees for city development and youth services. He also volunteered as a firefighter, Boy Scout leader, little league coach and as a Sunday school teacher and deacon at Lebanon Baptist Church. The naming of Pete and Gracie Hosp Elementary School also honored his legacy. 

Although Ms. Jahanyfard never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Hosp before his passing, she felt honored to portray his likeness in a portrait. The project was created because she wanted to know how she could become an integral member of the Frisco community using her natural skills as an artist. “Pete earned enormous respect within the community. He helped shape the future of Frisco. He is honored by so many things we see every day, without realizing the hand he had in making Frisco great,” Ms. Jahanyfard explains. “This portrait is meant to simply serve as a reminder of his contributions. It is something people will see and remember that he lived and what he did mattered.”

Ms. Jahanyfard is a newcomer to Frisco. She and her family moved here only eight months ago, but she has already gotten very involved in the community, specifically the local arts scene. She is currently the director of education for the Frisco Fine Art Gallery, as well as a member of the Visual Arts Guild of Frisco and Frisco Arts. She also teaches art lessons at One River School of Art + Design. In her spare time, she continues to paint both for her personal collection, as well as commissioned pieces and portraits, such as the piece for the Hosp family. 

Ms. Jahanyfard was born in Iran, but moved to the U.S. in 2007, when her husband got a job at a college in Lexington, Mo. When they moved here, she had no knowledge of English, but found painting to be a way she could connect to the community and those around her. “When we moved here, I did not speak the language. I did not know how to drive and I was having trouble fitting in,” Ms. Jahanyfard explains. “Art then kind of became a visual language and allowed me to communicate and express myself nonverbally.” 

Ms. Jahanyfard attended Pardis University in Iran, and even went on to establish her own art institute, Bahar Studios, where she taught more than 220 students. After immigrating to the U.S. and learning English, she elected to continue her education and went on to graduate from the University of Central Missouri with a bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts in Studio Art. 

The family relocated once again in 2017, when she, her husband and their two daughters moved to Frisco. Mr. Jahanyfard’s brother lives in Texas and told them Frisco was a growing community with a lot of job opportunities and a great school district. “In Mo., we did not have much diversity. I think we were the only foreigners in our town!” Ms. Jahanyfard says with a smile. “But now, living in Frisco, I love how diverse the community is. My accent just blends in with everyone else’s!” 

When the family first arrived in Frisco, Ms. Jahanyfard went to several galleries and museums looking for opportunities and a way to get involved, which led her to Brad Sharp, the chair of the Public Art Board and a board member of the Heritage Association of Frisco. After seeing some of Ms. Jahanyfard’s work, Mr. Sharp suggested she create a portrait and told her about Mr. Hosp and the great work he did for the city. “Brad thought it would be very fitting to celebrate Pete’s life with a portrait that also served as a way to use art as a platform to unite people across the community,” Ms. Jahanyfard says. “I love people and I leave a piece of myself behind in every work I do.”

The Heritage Association hosted their twentieth anniversary kick-off celebration at the Frisco Fine Art Gallery and the portrait was unveiled during the event. The Hosp family was in attendance, and Mrs. Hosp was brought to tears when she first saw the portrait. The portrait will temporarily remain on display at the Heritage Museum before being permanently gifted to the Hosp family. “I paint because it is my passion. Art has been such a blessing in my life. I see art as a connection to the world and a way to touch people’s hearts,” Ms. Jahanyfard explains. “I see my role in the community as an example for other artists who aspire to be successful and achieve their goals.”

Ms. Jahanyfard seeks to use art as a bridge to connect with people and feels very lucky to have crossed paths with someone like Mr. Sharp, who is so encouraging and enjoys helping artists grow. “Zahra is such a talented artist,” Mr. Sharp says. “She has the drive, positive energy and professional mindset that will make her a success in any area she chooses to put her efforts.”

Her cultural and social background, as well as her studies in the U.S., inspire Ms. Jahanyfard’s paintings and designs. Her artwork features mixed media, has been exhibited in numerous venues and has received awards both in Iran and the U.S. “My art is the story of my life and experiences and comes from my heart,” Ms. Jahanyfard says. “I hope I captured the essence of Pete and that when people look into his eyes, they will feel him looking back saying ‘thank you for remembering me.’”

Rachel Beaird is a recent University of Arkansas graduate, travel enthusiast and a public relations aficionado.