FORT PIERCE, Fla. - The Florida Highwaymen were a group of 26 African Americans who peddled their paintings from car trunks along the state's roadways. Their movement started in the 1950s, and Alfred Hair was at the center of it. Now, Hair's son is being recognized for his skills with a paint brush.
Kelvin Hair is a 25-year veteran of the St. Lucie County Fire Department, and he's being recognized in his own right. Governor Rick Scott chose him as the Black History Month artist of the year.
Florida is his canvas, and painting landscapes is Kelvin Hair's passion.
"I have a lot of grove scenes, Florida hibiscus, ranch scenes," said Hair.
This is Black History Month.
The 22nd floor of the Capital Gallery in Tallahassee will display 18 of Hair's oil paintings.
His signature is a realistic-looking closeup of a coconut palm. It's an image his father, Alfred Hair, never painted as a Florida Highwayman. Alfred's dad crisscrossed the state in the '50s, making art of much what he saw and becoming a legend because of it.
"My dad would paint 10 to 20 paintings a day, and he'd sell them for $20, $25 a piece, and now people require you to be a little more technically skilled, and you get more than $25," laughed Hair.
Hair's paintings are more detailed than his dad's. They take a little more time to do. But the inspiration is the same: the Florida landscape. Hair says he is the inheritor of his dad's artistic flair, a gift from the father who died when Kelvin was just a boy.
"I really hope that he's somewhere watching. I would like to believe, and I know if he is, I know he's extremely proud," said Hair.
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