Art Talk: Kelvin Hair

by Jennifer Hoesing

Florida artist Kelvin Hair is this year’s Black History Month featured artist. Kelvin’s work is on view in the 22nd Floor Capitol Gallery in Tallahassee through March 29 as a part of the Division of Cultural Affairs’ Capitol Complex Exhibitions program. Exhibit hours are Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission is free.

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.

As a Lieutenant and 23-year veteran of the St. Lucie Fire Department, Kelvin treats art as an escape from his hectic work life. “When I paint I go into my own world and there are no worries,” Kelvin said. “I love my job as a firefighter but it is very stressful most of our calls are ambulance runs, so painting is my way of getting away from the stress at work.”

Kelvin Hair at work on a painting. (photo submitted)

Kelvin was first introduced to art by his father, famed Highwayman Alfred Hair. The younger Hair started painting on oils at age sixteen. That year A.E. “Beanie” Backus supported Hair by critiquing his artwork and encouraging his painting. Later another Highwayman, Johnny “Hook” Daniels, served as a mentor to Kelvin. “Working with these artists has been a remarkably positive thing. They have told me stories of the days of working with my father, and it gives me a feeling of being with him,” he said.

"Harvest Time" oil on canvas by Kelvin Hair on view in the 22nd Floor Capitol Gallery through March 29, 2012.

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 Macadonia 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 told me 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.”

For more information about Kelvin and his artwork, visit

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