Meet the Highwaymen, Florida’s African-American landscape artists who defied the odds by overcoming the obstacles of the “Jim Crow” South, solidifying a chapter of artistic and cultural history.
Depending on how long you have lived in Florida, you may or may not have heard of the Highwaymen. They are better known today, but not very long ago they were an anonymous group of Florida artists selling original paintings of Florida landscapes from the trunks of their cars.
Though they would not be called the Highwaymen for several decades these African-American artists created a unique chapter in Florida’s cultural history. From the 1950s into the 1980s, a total of twenty-six individuals from Fort Pierce and nearby areas were creating Florida folk art – and doing it well under the radar of the art world.
The artists featured paintings of familiar Florida scenes – crashing waves on windswept beaches, palm trees bent by the wind, majestic Royal Poinciana trees, moss-draped oak trees, red-orange sunsets, billowing clouds and moonlit rivers.