The Highwaymen are a group of (26) African American landscape artists in Florida. Relatively unknown until 1994, the term "Highwaymen" didn't exist until art aficionado Jim Fitch coined the term when researching the paintings. These artists, influenced and taught by Florida landscape artist Alfred “Beanie” Backus (1906-1990), started something unique and special in the 1950's & 1960's. They created stunning images despite facing many racial and cultural barriers. Mostly from the Fort Pierce, Gifford, and Treasure Coast area, their painted landscapes allowed the artists to earn a living selling their works door-to-door to businesses, banks, doctor's offices, and individuals throughout Florida. The artists sold their paintings, often still wet, loaded from the trunks of their cars along the Eastern coastal roads up and down Florida from Fort Pierce to out West Central Florida and down to Miami.
The Highwaymen artists created large numbers of relatively inexpensive Florida landscape paintings for sale using mostly cheap construction materials (upson board) rather than traditional art supplies (like canvas) and framed their paintings with their hand made crown molding frames. Some of these early artists that began in the 1950's, and at a difficult time knowing that art galleries wouldn't accept their works, resulted in the artists traveling and selling their works in towns and cities (and along roadsides) throughout Florida out of their automobiles earning the moniker "Highwaymen" artists. Their success, talent, and longevity is remarkable considering they began their career in the racially unsettled and violent times of the 1950's in Florida during the social conditions of the Jim Crow South. They have been called "The Last Great American Art Movement of the 20th century".
The artists: Alfred Hair, Harold Newton, R.A. (Roy) McLendon, James Gibson, Livingston (Castro) Roberts, Mary Ann Carroll, Al Black, brothers Sam, Harold, and Lemuel "Lem" Newton, Curtis Arnett, Hezekiah Baker, brothers Ellis & George Buckner, Robert Butler, brothers Johnny & Willie Daniels, Rodney Demps, Isaac Knight, Robert "RL" Lewis, John Maynor, Alphonso (Poncho) Moran, Willie Reagan, Carnell "Pete" Smith, Charles Walker, Sylvester "S.M." Wells, and Charles "Chico" Wheeler.
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