Artists other than those honored in the Florida Artist Hall of Fame paint landscapes that resemble those of the Highwaymen. Some people question how the designation was made. Opinions about who was left out, who was included, and how the next generation should be embraced (or not) are diverse and sometimes intense.
What everyone can agree on is that there are numerous artists who paint Florida landscapes who were or are somehow connected to the designated group. We refer to these painters as “Legacy Artists.” Mentioned here are but a few.
Alfred Hair’s wife, Doretha, not only painted the backgrounds of many of the paintings Alfred finished and signed, she also painted some of her own works in the early years and is now a prolific painter in her own right. She was not only supportive of her husband’s career as an artist, but she also enjoyed the benefits of his incredible success. Following Alfred’s death, she moved her family to New Jersey for safety. After raising her family and remarrying, she returned to the Dunbar house she and Alfred shared as a couple. Like so many of the other painters, she began painting in earnest in her later years.
These days, Doretha sells her paintings as actively as any of the Highwaymen, working the fairs and art festivals. She also writes about the Highwaymen with a strong desire to give visibility and truth to their story. Her story is often neglected in the telling of the Highwaymen’s tale. Alfred’s success story also belongs to Doretha.
One might refer to Jimmy as an enthusiastic Highwaymen historian or a painter just a little too young to have been included in the Florida Artist Hall of Fame. Jimmy, however, refers to himself as the twenty-seventh Highwayman, a goal is he actively pursuing with the State of Florida. Jimmy’s life can be told through his paintings and his love of cars. He was a long-time Highwaymen gallery owner and is the winner of many art festival awards. Jimmy Stovall is a retired electrician and an active painter who continuously strives to become a better artist.
Jimmy started by making frames. He learned from watching many of the Highwaymen paint, including Alfred Hair and Livingston Roberts. He spent many enjoyable years painting in his garage with Johnny Daniels while they talked about cars and their dreams for the future.
Ellis Bucker, Jr.
Son of Highwayman Ellis Buckner, Sr. and nephew of Highwayman George Buckner, Sr., Ellis Jr. was close to his dad and his uncle, who are now both deceased. He accompanied them to art shows and watched them paint. Ellis, Jr. remembers the time he first painted with oils. He was very young and was watching his father work on a large painting. His dad mixed a color for the sky and handed him the paintbrush, instructing him to paint on the canvas. Afraid he would mess up the painting and amazed that his father would trust him to do such an important task, he had his first real lesson. He remembers feeling powerful with that brush in his hand.
Ellis, Jr. began to take painting seriously after his father died at the age of fifty-eight. As a form of grieving, he began painting with his uncle in his studio. In 2004 he published a book about his father and his uncle. Florida Landscape Through the Eyes of the Buckner Brothers is a tribute to two men who gave him valuable life lessons.
Ellis Buckner, Jr. was a firefighter for twenty-five years until he had heart problems and had to retire. His painting had been sporadic while he worked and raised a family; he now hopes to get back to it with more intensity.
Kelvin Hair was five years old when his father Alfred died. He remembers little about him except that he always had a pocketful of money and he once gave him $100 to spend. Kelvin was drawn to art as a young boy; he started painting when he was sixteen and met Bean Backus a year later. They immediately bonded and Backus gave him some advice. He also learned from other artists, especially Johnny Daniels who took an interest in him.
Kelvin worked as a Saint Lucie firefighter for twenty-nine years. Today, he can be found painting and attending art fairs and festivals around the state and elsewhere. While his paintings are grounded in the Highwaymen’s aesthetic, he has developed his own style and more diverse subject matter. When asked about the Highwaymen’s legacy, in both art and race relations, he acknowledges, “it was a struggle to make their contribution.”
Roy McLendon, Jr.
Roy, Jr., learned to paint from his father Roy McLendon, Sr., one of the core Highwaymen group members. He learned mostly by watching and experimenting; these days father and son often paint side-by-side. Roy, Jr. was born in Bridgeton, New Jersey, and was raised in Fort Pierce where he finished his schooling. Like his father, he was often pulled out of school to work the fields. The family followed the harvest season, sometimes being away from home for long periods of time. Doing well in school was challenging since he missed so many days.
Born in 1955, Roy, Jr. has been painting for decades. Roy and his father primarily sell their work at art fairs and festivals. Roy, Jr. has a young son who is also learning to paint landscapes.
Desirae, who was born in 2004, is Isaac Knight’s granddaughter. Isaac and his wife, Lillie, are raising her, and Isaac is teaching her to cook and paint. She became interested in painting when she was five and completed her first painting at the age of six. It all started one day when she saw her grandfather (whom she calls “Dad”) doing a painting demonstration at their church. He encouraged some children to paint after the demonstration and she was hooked. She recognized his skill on that day and then wanted to go to all his art events. One of her friends wrote a short story about her grandfather, which furthered her interest in art making. With strong family encouragement, she continues to learn. Desirae has already sold a few paintings.