So, who are The Highwaymen???
It’s a quite interesting story…AND…a great piece of Florida history. The Highwaymen are a group of landscape artists that broke through the traditional world of art, and the racial and cultural barriers of the time. This talented bunch consisted of 26 African American artists from the Fort Pierce area that started an art movement, which today is considered quite unique.
They were self-taught…they mentored each other. It was the 1950’s in the South and this group of young artists were starting their careers with…let’s just say, a lot of challenges facing them and that’s the remarkable part of this story. They rose above these obstacles by adopting enterprising ways to succeed in the business of being artists.
So, here’s the story…AND…the history. The Highwaymen loved to paint the natural landscapes that all Floridians and visitors to our state find so beautiful. Trying to find a gallery interested in artwork by unknowns with no formal training was impossible, and do not forget the unsettled racial times of the late 50’s in the South. These extraordinary artists painted on construction materials like inexpensive Upson board or masonite framed with crown molding. They packed their cars with their passion and headed down the highway selling out the trunks of their cars to businesses and individuals throughout the State of Florida. Today, their works of art are sought after by many…AND…our Nation’s Capitol has on ongoing exhibit of vintage paintings at Florida House–which serves as a goodwill embassy for Floridians.
I had the pleasure of meeting one of the original Highwaymen, Mr. James Gibson, who is pictured here displaying one of his trademark pieces. This is the 13th year that the Safety Harbor Museum has showcased The Highwaymen but, this was my first time getting to see the artwork upclose. Had I taken the time to check out what my village has to offer, it wouldn’t have been my first viewing of this show.
Hint to the readers of this posts…take a walk around and discover all your village has to offer…support it…preserve it.
I would like to thank Mr. James Gibson for sharing his story…his history. Being a successful artist, James has not forgotten his community. He shares his time and talent with several charities, which range from youth programs to Alzheimers community care. Please check out his website for info, and check out the long list of accolades bestowed upon him.
I know…I know…I know…I went way past the word count that I usually use as my guideline. Just once!!!!
This is Safety Harbor, FL and this is my village…