Stetson Hosts Florida Highwaymen Art Exhibit With Rare Art

By on May 16, 2017 in WNDB News

DeLand, FL – Stetson University is hosting an art exhibit featuring rare art from African American artists who painted Florida’s landscapes.

This exhibit called the “The Florida Highwaymen: Art Innovators in a Civil Rights Epoch,” contains over 30 paintings from these artists, borrowed from several private collections. Some of the paintings have never been seen by the public.

The Florida Highwaymen was a group of 26 African American painters who began the Highwaymen art era during the Jim Crow 50s and Civil Rights Movement 60s in Ft. Pierce. Alfred Hair was among the founding members.

Hair pushed back against the social and economic boundaries of the time for African Americans and “stepped out of the bounds of art for art’s sake and unapologetically entered the marketplace,” said Catherine Enns in her book, The Journey of the Highwaymen.

Hair went door-to-door selling his paintings with his friends, forming a name for themselves: the Florida Highwaymen. Eventually, his friends became painters themselves and they began to inexpensively paint on Upson panels with lumber yard molding, selling their paintings out of their cars.

“I think it’s a really important part of Florida History and African American History and I think they were creating work at a time where our country was going through adjustments as far as accepting diverse populations,” says Director of the Hand Art Center, Tonya Curran. “I think it’s important that these were really great examples of men and one woman who were able to make a better life for themselves in spite of these incredible obstacles they were facing.”

(Sam Newton’s Florida Landscape courtesy of Anonymous Private Collection)

(Alfred Hair’s Florida Landscape courtesy of Anonymous Private Collection)

Florida Highwaymen art can also be seen at the A.E. Backus Museum in Ft. Pierce, The Florida Aquarium in Tampa and in several traveling exhibits.

The free exhibit is being held in the Homer & Dolly Hand Art Center, 139 E. Michigan Ave., DeLand. The exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 11 AM to 4 PM, and until 6 PM on Thursdays and 12 PM to 4 PM on Saturdays. Parking is available off of Arizona Avenue and Amelia Avenue.

A gallery walkthrough with photographer and author Gary Monroe will take place on Saturday, June 3, at 1 PM.

Photo courtesy of Stetson University.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2017.

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