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Al Black

Al Black

Florida Landscape, Fort Pierce Area
Untitled Florida Landscape, Fort Pierce area
Oil on Masonite board, 2007
H: 22 ½” W: 28 ½”
Acquired from the artist in 2008

Born in Barlow, Mississippi, Al Black moved to Fort Pierce when he was 14. In the 1960s, Black became the top salesman for Alfred Hair and the Highwaymen. He was undeterred by signs barring Black people and solicitation. He walked into businesses that previously had turned away other Highwaymen and made a sale. Black drove all over Florida and up the Atlantic coast, selling forty to fifty paintings a day. Oil paintings take a long time to dry, and occasionally, although he was a salesman, Black had to get out a paintbrush and make repairs to a marred picture. He did not create his own paintings until after Hair’s death in 1970.

Unfortunately, Al Black developed a cocaine problem, and in 1977, he went to prison for fraud and drug possession. While he was in prison, Black was allowed by the warden to paint pictures on the walls. He created more than ninety landscape murals, transforming the prison into an artistic space that provided hope and inspiration to his fellow inmates. Released in 2006, Black returned to Fort Pierce. Today he paints, teaches others to paint, and regularly donates his works to be auctioned for charities.