Kelvin Hair grew up surrounded by art. A self-described passionate artist fueled by bold imagination, Kelvin was introduced to art as a toddler and has been creating original works of art since middle school.
These days Kelvin is a widely-collected Florida artist with a loyal fan base.
Kelvin says he was five years old when his father Alfred died, and remembers little about him except that he always had a pocketful of money and once gave him $100 to spend.
He was drawn to art as a young boy. Kelvin started painting when he was sixteen and met Bean Backus a year later. They immediately bonded and Backus gave him some advice. Kelvin also learned from the Original Highwaymen artists, especially Johnny Daniels, who he says took an interest in him.
Kelvin worked as a Saint Lucie County 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.”
Teachers have been important and influential in Kelvin’s life and work, and in that great tradition, Kelvin is passing along art to students. He teaches at his home studio, and by offering free classes at the Children’s Home Society in Fort Pierce as well as at Macedonia Church in Gifford. “When I teach kids it is not only about the art. It’s also about teaching them to trust themselves and create something new out of what appears to be nothing,” Kelvin said. “Painting lets them know through experience that they can achieve.”
Kelvin says that all Floridians can benefit from arts and culture. “Art and culture preserve Florida’s rich history. Art & culture also show the world Florida’s creative abilities, and without those abilities you can not compete in the ever-changing world we live in.”
Governor Scott recognized Kelvin Hair in 2012 as a featured Pioneer Artist from the State of Florida.