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Florida Department of State
Kurt S. Browning
Secretary of State
For Immediate Release
February 02, 2011
Tallahassee, FL—Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning announces the presentation of eight new Highwaymen paintings to the Museum of Florida History on February 8, 2011, by the Museums of Florida History Foundation, Inc. The Foundation annually donates selected artifacts that are identified by the Museum as useful to its permanent collection. The presentation will take place from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in the Museum lobby, lower level of the R. A. Gray Building at 500 South Bronough Street, downtown Tallahassee.
A new installation has been prepared to showcase the new Highwaymen pieces. The additional Highwaymen art is featured in cases in the lobby. The Museum’s collection includes paintings that represent twenty-three of the twenty-six Highwaymen artists. The new acquisitions to be presented on February 8 feature works by Curtis Arnett, Hezekiah Baker, Johnny Daniels, Rodney Demps, John Maynor, Lemuel Newton, Carnell Smith and Sylvester Wells.
The group of African American artists who would eventually be called the “Highwaymen,” got their start in the Fort Pierce area in the 1950s. It was there that the noted landscape artist A. E. “Bean” Backus mentored several of these young art students. Backus’ work with these artists was groundbreaking because the art world was not receptive to African American artists at that time. This young group of artists loaded their cars with freshly painted art and traveled the highways of South Florida, most notably in the 1960s, selling to local motels, other businesses, and the public. In the 1990s, an art historian coined the name “Highwaymen” for this group, based on their method of distribution.
With a recent revival of interest and appreciation for their style, collectors now recognize the significance of Highwaymen paintings as a genre that captures an idealized vision of Florida’s past. The twenty-six original artists of the Highwaymen group, including twenty-five men and one woman, were collectively inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. A number of these artists still paint today.
The Museum of Florida History is located at 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday and holidays, noon to 4:30 p.m. Admission and covered parking are free. The Museum experience includes Fat Sandwich café and Florida’s History Shop. For more information, go www.museumoffloridahistory.com