Little Known Black History Fact: Alfred Hair and the Highwaymen

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  • Alfred Hair a.k.a “Freddie” of Fort Pierce, Florida was a black artist and student of a well-known white art teacher named A.E. Backus. Hair was born pre-civil rights and used painting as a release from the segregated south.  His style of painting bright scenes of Florida, with no two paintings just alike, came to be known as the “Highwaymen” style of painting. It is a highly emotional, no lines or ‘rules of art’ on the canvas. The style was the pure essence of Hair’s ability to capture the natural scene. During the 1950’s there were no print machines to mass-produce copies of one print, so each one of Hair’s pieces were unique.

    As a Highwayman, Alfred Hair sold his paintings out of cars, on the side of highways and door-to-door, sometimes before they were completely dry. Hair painted anywhere from 8 to 20 paintings in one day. He soon began earning anywhere from $250 to $500 per day in the 1960’s. With so many clients, he had to hire salesman for the demand, and some of the salesman became Highwaymen artists themselves.

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