Guest Author David A. Schwartz - sponsored by the Broward County Cultural Division, the Cultural Council and the Broward County Board of County Commissioners; Photo credit Armando Colls Photography
Second generation Highwaymen Artist, Kelvin Hair, son of Alfred Hair, one of the 26 original Highwaymen and co-founder of the art genre, is the featured living Artist for the exhibit for Black History Month. The Highwaymen, Florida’s mid-20th century African American artists, sold their old Florida landscape paintings out of their cars along the state’s highways, creating more than 100,000 oil paintings in a style that is unique to the state. They painted their works very fast in order to offer them as low as $20 each (often taking only 15 minutes to complete an alluring impressionistic painting) creating a very profitable business as many purchases were in bundles by repeat customers.
The exhibition of Kelvin Hair’s work, as well as the original Highwaymen art and iconic Folk and Outsider Artist, Purvis Young, will be on display at the History Museum gallery February 5 - March 02. Paintings by Hair and rare finds by the original Highwaymen and Outsider Artists sold benefit the History Museum. Because of the success of the exhibit and the wide positive response, the History Museum is continuing to offer a variety of Outsider art for sale through their secondary gallery space through the summer 2016.
Outsider Artist is a term describing mostly self-taught Artists who paint at the ‘margins’ of society for economic, social, political or even mental cognitive reasons. "Many of the buyers of Highwaymen paintings were people who moved to Florida during a postwar era of prosperity and optimism," noted Author and Outsider Artist Archivist, Gary Monroe said. “We were reaching for the stars a few miles from their homes with Cape Canaveral.” The original Highwaymen used sweeping brush strokes to give their work “a sense of transience and movement,” Monroe said. While the original Highwaymen were constrained by the laws of the segregated south, they boldly painted an idealism and beauty that transcended the difficulties they experienced.
This exhibit, curated for the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society for African American History Month, celebrates black culture in Broward County and Florida with paintings by Hair, original Highwaymen, as well as Purvis Young who’ve become legends and legacy builders in South Florida's art scene. Purvis Young was selected Director's Choice in 2007 for Art Miami at the Miami Beach Convention Center (prior to the fair's exit to a tented venue in the Wynwood Arts District). Young’s works famed for their iconic images of social activism and spiritual searching are part of countless museum collections including the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Highwaymen’s business model overcame discrimination’s barriers to success and they were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Young Artists today can learn from the innovation and immense talent of the band of peripatetic painters and Young’s perseverance.
Hair demonstrated the Highwaymen 'quick style' to Broward County schools’ students, however, he paints more comfortably in a more conservative manner using controlled brush strokes and follows established conventions. The 'virtual' field trip class with four (4) other classrooms from Dillard High School's Magnet Program for the Visual Arts Advanced Placement studio of Celestin Joseph, Instructor, in Fine Arts, was the first to be broadcast from an arts classroom for the Broward County Public Schools.
Sponsors of events in February also include the City of Fort Lauderdale, Riverwalk Trust, The Community Foundation of Broward, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, & the Humanities Council.
Please feel free to contact Clare Vickery for pricing/questions about Kelvin Hair, original Highwaymen or other Artists in the exhibit at 954.816.3324