Alfred Hair is credited as the founding member of the Highwaymen, a loosely affiliated group of black artists who began producing art in the Fort Pierce area in the late 1950’s. Born in Fort Pierce on May 20, 1941, he was killed in a barroom brawl on August 9, 1970. Father of six children he planned to become a millionaire by age 35. Having received instruction from noted landscape artist A.E. “Bean” Backus in the early 1950’s he taught those same skills to other young Fort Pierce artists. Alfred set up and assembly line style process, to mass produce paintings. Mr. Hair did not use a traditional style, the emphasis was speed using vibrant colors.
Hair invited friends to take part in his business. Some made frames, others honed their skills as artists. Still others went door to door and on the road to show and sell the estimated between 50,000 to 200,000 paintings created by the Highwaymen during the late 50’s and early 60’s. Thousand were purchased by state travelers and used in their homes. Businessmen found these paintings to be an economical way to decorate offices, hotel rooms and business lobbies. Over the years, the paintings gained credibility and have begun to be recognized as serious works of art.