“Wind-bent palm trees, sand, surf, billowing clouds and vivid sunsets were the essentials of Florida landscape painting that emerged following World War II. Occasionally moss-draped cypress trees in the still water of a marsh presented a more contemplative view, while a royal Poinciana in full, flaming red bloom or a storm-tossed shore provided dramatic relief. . . . These colorful landscapes . . . shaped the state’s popular image as much as oranges and alligators.”—New York Times
Discover the Highwaymen painters in four colorful books published by the University Press of Florida:
The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters introduces a group of young black artists who painted their way out of the despair awaiting them in citrus groves and packing houses of 1950s Florida. With paintings still wet, they loaded their cars and traveled the state’s east coast, and sold the images door-to-door. As their story recaptures the imagination of Floridians and their paintings fetch ever-escalating prices, their artistic legacy exerts a new and powerful influence on the popular conception of the Sunshine State. Working with inexpensive materials, the Highwaymen produced an astonishing number of landscapes that depict a romanticized Florida—a faraway place of wind-swept palm trees, billowing clouds, and setting sun.
Harold Newton: The Original Highwayman features an unrecognized vagabond artist who not only captured the beauty of the Florida landscape, but transformed it with an artistry that invoked its drama of light, color, and form while hinting at its dark, primordial forces. Combining samples of Harold Newton’s paintings with biographical details and reminiscences of family members, customers, and fellow Highwaymen, this book is a homage to the man whose work contributed perhaps more than anyone else’s to shaping the romantic imagery and identity of modern Florida.
The Highwaymen Murals: Al Black’s Concrete Dreams presents the work of Highwayman Al Black. When the boom times went bust, Black struggled with drugs and eventually went to prison. While in the Central Florida Reception Center, “Inmate Black” was recognized as painter “Al Black” after the warden read a story by St. Petersburg Times columnist Jeff Klinkenberg about the Highwaymen. Soon, with the warden’s encouragement and permission, Black was painting murals throughout the prison, classic Highwaymen landscapes in unexpected venues. When he left CFRC in 2006, Black had created more than 100 murals for the Department of Corrections. The Highwaymen Murals is the only record of these images available to the public.
Mary Ann Carroll: First Lady of the Highwaymen is the never-before-told story of a black female artist’s hard-fought journey to provide for her family while also making a name for herself in a man’s world. Mary Ann Carroll sold her first painting at eighteen—remarkable for any young artist, unheard of for a black woman in the South. Like her Highwaymen brethren, she traveled across the state, selling her art at hotels, offices, and restaurants where she was not allowed to drink, eat, or even sit. After years of obscurity, Carroll was invited to the First Lady’s Luncheon in 2011, where she presented a painting of her iconic poinciana to Michelle Obama. Today, she is pastor of the Foundation Revival Center in Fort Pierce, is an accomplished artist and musician, and still paints and exhibits her work widely.