The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters
Emerging in the late 1950s, the Highwaymen, a loose association of twenty-five men and one woman from the Ft. Pierce FL area created idyllic, quickly realized images of the Florida dream. They peddled some 100,000 paintings from the trunks of their cars.
Working with inexpensive materials, they produced an astonishing number of landscapes that depict a romanticized Florida--a faraway place of wind-swept palm trees, billowing cumulus clouds, wetlands, lakes, rivers, ocean, and setting sun. With paintings still wet, they loaded their cars and traveled the Florida east coast, selling the images door-to-door and store-to-store, in restaurants, offices, courthouses, and bank lobbies.
Sometimes characterized as motel art, the work is a hybrid form of landscape painting, corrupting the classically influenced ideals of the Highwaymen’s mentor, A. E. "Bean" Backus. At first, the paintings sold like boom-time real estate. In succeeding decades, however, they were consigned to attics and garage sales. Rediscovered in the mid-1990s, today they are recognized as the work of American folk artists.
(17) Original Florida Highwaymen paintings currently on display!
Harold Newton: The Original Highwayman, by GARY MONROE
The Highwaymen Murals: Al Black's Concrete dreams, by GARY MONROE