Who Was “Bean” Backus?

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Portrait of Bean in his studio. He generally dismissed money as “unimportant” except as a means of helping others, especially children.

AE “Bean” Backus, best-known for his Florida landscape paintings, was an exceptional artist who lived an unusually liberal lifestyle. To know and appreciate Backus’ art is to understand the man through both practical and sentimental interpretations from his friends and relationships throughout his life.

Spanning the economically and socially difficult times of the 1900s, including the Great Depression and World War II, Backus’ marked generosity, talent and unflinching crossing-the-lines of social prohibitions earned him an image that was almost saint-like. That too was part of the Backus persona; he got along with everyone.

Albert Ernest Backus was born in Fort Pierce in 1906 to George and Josephine Backus. Next to the youngest, he had two brothers and two sisters. They were a well-liked and well-respected family, especially as local entertainers during the bleak, desperate times of the Depression.

Read the entire article in the April 2002 issue

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