A J Brown
Born in Virginia and raised by a single mother and Seminole Indian grandmother in northern Florida, A J Brown’s family were migrant fruit and vegetable pickers from Tallahassee, Florida. She tells us, “Life offered hardships of living in camps traveling from highway to highway…during elementary years, attending Means Court Elementary in Fort Pierce, and over ten different schools and fifteen addresses.”
A J continues, “I had no permanent home to call my own, a “Highwaymen” in every sense of the word. Growing up during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, in the Deep South, I was among the first students to end segregation… before day break, early each morning I woke to take three buses out of my neighborhood across town to desegregate one white school in another town in 1970”.
A J credits her mentor, Highwayman Artist Johnny Lee “Hook” Daniels, for taking her under his wing.
She explains that she learned a technique that she was able to take to another level. Called dimensional art, the illustration is raised above the canvas, almost appearing 3-dimensional.
Hall of Fame Original Florida Highwaymen Johnny Lee Daniels “Hook” passed from this life on May 26, 2009. He is buried at Pine Grove Cemetery, Block 1000, Avenue L, Section 2-N, among four other Highwaymen artists. A J Brown was authorized to construct his grave-site monument by Curley Daniels and Cultural Affairs Manager, Jody Bonet.
A J describes Daniels as “An American story, filled with spirit and energy of how one person left a lasting impression on so many, Johnny made you feel appreciated, valued and welcomed. He is the only Original Highwaymen to mentor five friends and family members who were to become Historic 2nd Generation Highwaymen artists.”
A J Brown is the only female of the group Johnny Daniels mentored. Like predecessors before him, A E Backus, Newton and Hair, Daniels continued the vision, tradition and legacy. Brown says she is humbled that Daniels hand-picked her to pass down his legacy, the only woman among four men in the group that Daniels’ is believed to have mentored. A J explains that their friendship grew into a business relationship that quickly became a kinship. In her own words, “I was chosen to carry on his tradition of the Highwaymen. Our friendship grew into a relationship that is as close as any family member.”
A J paints folk art and scenes of historical Florida, before all of the high rises and business came. She prides herself in capturing history in her art. “I paint historic Florida, back before it was developed, how it looked in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s,”
A J explains. “My paintings represent the nostalgic look of Florida; a time forgotten. A time before there were condos, where there was just open land and open country. It was free, it was a fascinating time, that is sort of forgotten but a lot of people remember.”
Rooted in a long-line of military family and brotherhood to our country, A J Brown is a Blue Star Mom of a Gold Star Family.
A J says she was honored that the first family owns her paintings and describes their meeting as “exciting and very impressive! She added, “Highwaymen History Lives On!”
In May 2009, A J Brown was officially appointed by the “Original Highwaymen” as the first Secretary of the Highwaymen’s own organization by the Highwaymen By-Laws Committee.
When asked, how do you want to be remembered in history? A J replies, “Endless years of dedication to family, education and programs servicing children in our communities; decades of devotion as a Florida Highwaymen, Artist 2nd Generation; contributions and achievements that sustains Highwaymen history and legacy, and a path that inspires futures for generations to come, crossing barriers of all times with honor, unity and respect.”