SARASOTA, FL – Arts Advocates is pleased to announce the receipt of a gift of five Florida Highwaymen paintings, generously donated by members Cecilia and Richard Conder. These pieces are now on exhibit in the Arts Advocates Gallery, located in the Crossings at Siesta Mall, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, in Sarasota.
The Highwaymen were a group of 26 African American landscape artists, mostly self-taught from the Fort Pierce, Florida area, active from the mid-1950s into the 1980s. They painted on inexpensive Upson board or Masonite and made frames from crown molding. Because no galleries would accept their work, they sold their art door-to-door or from the trunks of their cars, often still wet, along Florida’s eastern coastal roads. Their renown grew internationally during the early 2000s, and the members have been recognized for their contributions to mid-twentieth century Florida culture and history. Their success and longevity are remarkable considering they began their careers in racially unsettled times, in a place where the civil rights movement was in its infancy.
The Highwaymen artists represented in the Arts Advocates collection are:
Al Black – An original Highwaymen, his “Royal Poinciana Tree Along the St. Lucie River” features three birds – as many of his paintings do – representing the Holy Trinity.
Rodney Demps – Along with the other Highwaymen in this collection, Demps was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004.
James Gibson – Another original Highwaymen, Gibson is known for his moonlight artworks. He was one of Alfred Hair’s best friends and was inspired by Hair to start painting and selling.
Alfred Hair – Considered the first Highwaymen artist and the organizer of the painters, he taught many of the artists to speed paint and make a living selling their artwork.
John Maynor – His “Fireskies” represents one of the popular templates of the Highwaymen.
The Highwaymen paintings are on exhibit through December 2021; gallery hours are every Saturday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. They are also included in the docent-guided gallery tours on November 3 and December 1 at 11:00 a.m. along with the Sarasota Colony Artists exhibit. Reservations for tours are required.
To register for gallery tours, and learn more about or become a member of Arts Advocates, visit ArtsAdvocates.org.
Arts Advocates was founded in 1969 as The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Its mission is to inspire creativity, advance education and connect the community to the arts. Arts Advocates awards scholarships to local students pursuing careers in the arts; supports local arts and educational organizations and sponsors art-related events; and promotes the creative works of Florida artists by purchasing, collecting, exhibiting, and presenting these works to residents and visitors. To learn more, visit artsadvocates.org.