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Searching for the Next Generation of Highwaymen Painters: Kelvin Hair, Second Generation Artist, helps kick off Black History Month at Fort Lauderdale History Museum and local schools

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Kelvin Hair, second generation Highwaymen Artist, and son of one of the most famous of the original Highwaymen, Alfred Hair, will be hosting an opening reception, a series of exhibits, shows and workshops, in Fort Lauderdale the first weekend in February to kick off black history month. Collaborators include the Old Dillard School Museum, the award-winning arts programs of Dillard High School, Grace Arts FL and Event Host, The History Museum of Fort Lauderdale. All events are free and open to the public. 

The original Highwaymen produced gestural impressionistic paintings prolifically and sold them out of their cars along Florida’s highways. Scenic and pristine, the vintage works harkens back to an earlier time in Florida’s history where though the strains of segregation squeezed the young, bold painters out of traditional art careers, their work attracted many buyers and future collectors. Kelvin didn’t get a chance to get to know his father, who was tragically murdered at a very early age, but a number of Alfred Hair’s friends who were also painters, took Kelvin under their wing and taught him the quick painting strokes and how to chose and master the composition of a still life or Florida landscape.

Nationally recognized art historian and scholar, Gary Monroe, will provide a riveting talk to the public at the opening of the Highwaymen Exhibit on Monday, February 8, 2016 at the Fort Lauderdale History Museum. His book, The Highwaymen: Florida's African-American Landscape Painters, is a seminal work on the famed first generation of this uniquely Florida art genre. A new generation of Highwaymen Artists has not yet emerged, Kelvin being one of a very few and now fifty years old himself, but there’s hope that with investment by the Florida cultural community into a new wave of young artists, their talent combined with an understanding of the Highwaymen story and style will carry forward this important artistic legacy. Paintings can be purchased throughout the week of Kelvin Hair’s visit and during the month of February from the Museum, on and off site during events.

Governor Scott recognized Kelvin Hair in 2012 as a featured pioneer Artist from the State of Florida; “The Highwaymen paintings represent the postwar ideal of Florida better than alligators and oranges. They challenge our notions of race relations during the time that these artists prevailed, before the Civil Rights Movement and when Jim Crow laws were still in force. These dreamy images stimulate a viewer to a transcendent sense of self, relative to our wondrous land where fact and fiction can blur to suit one's imagination.” –Gary Monroe.

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Schedule of Events: All Free and Open to the Public. Donations Welcome.

Friday and Saturday, Feb 6, Hair and other noted Florida folk and self-taught artists featured at Dillard Gallery space as part of annual, award winning Jazz Ensemble celebration and fund-raiser.

Sunday, Feb 7 11A-2PM, Art fair at Fort lauderdale Riverwalk. Local emerging and established visual artists, sculptors, vendors of antiques and collectibles near music from jazz bands, popular musical series sponsored by City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation. Kelvin Hair paints live in the Museum gallery or on the quaint wrap-around porch.

Monday, Feb 8, 6 – 8 PM  Opening Reception, Gary Monroe noted Art Historian gives a Highwaymen lecture with Highwaymen artwork and folk art including Purvis Young, Florida’s premier Outsider Artist, who Mr. Monroe will also briefly discuss.

Tuesday, Feb 9, 1:30–3 PM Kelvin Hair conducts a virtual art class to select Broward County Schools from Dillard High School. Students will produce artwork and interact with Kelvin via live discussion.

Wednesday, Feb 10, 5:30 – 7 PM, History Museum hosts Broward Means Business event where leading young professionals network and learn more about Florida's rich self-taught and folk art history. 

Sponsored by: City of Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Community Foundation of Broward, Culture Builds Florida, Riverwalk Trust, Fort Lauderdale Historic Society

Photo of Kelvin Hair: PalmBeachPost.com

For more information contact: Clare Vickery @ 954.816.3324, Director Grace Arts Fl, Cultural Marketplace collaborative of Retail Gallery and charitable arts programming