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The Highwaymen: Florida Artists Who Defied the Odds


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.

Sam Newton, Florida Highwayman artist

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.

Mary Ann Carroll, Highwaymen, the only female artist

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.

Robin Draper, AuthenticFlorida, excerpt posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Mar. 27, 2017 

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Sarasota native Robin Draper is the owner of AuthenticFlorida.com, a travel and lifestyle blog devoted to the simple and delightful pleasures for Florida living. Authentic Florida is intended to inspire discovery of the accessible, yet under-appreciated areas of the state. Draper’s lifelong passion has been discovering Florida’s genuine side – some old, some new – but most are “simple and affordable.” Authentic Florida has been recognized as the BEST Blog of the Year, and the BEST Travel Blog, and BEST Food Blog at the Florida Bloggers Conference Sunshine Awards. She was also awarded 13 Excellence-In-Craft awards by the Florida Outdoor Writers Association for her blogs, print articles and videos.