The Elliott Museum in Hutchinson Island will unveil a collection of works by the prolific Highwaymen artists March 11. In “Highwaymen — From the Street Corner to the Smithsonian,” guests will have the opportunity to tour more than 50 original, rare paintings. The exhibition will be on view through July 14.
In the 1950s, several African-American artists from the Treasure Coast began painting Florida’s vivid landscapes, looking for a better way to earn a living. Dubbed the “Highwaymen,” the self-taught artists sold their paintings out of the trunks of their cars as they traveled Florida’s highways. It is estimated that the group sold more than 200,000 paintings. Today, Highwaymen paintings are displayed in the Smithsonian, and all of the member artists are represented in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.
The “Highwaymen—From the Street Corner to the Smithsonian” collection features paintings that have never been exhibited. While many works focus on well-known Florida landscapes, many of these exhibit paintings tell different stories, depicting people, animals, and intimate vistas. There also will be an extensive “Canvas Board Wall” of early works, including some by founding member Harold Newton, along with a Tribute Wall to Roy McLendon, who was inspired to pursue art by his neighbor, Newton.
Stop by during opening weekend for a lineup of activities from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Throughout the weekend, McLendon, who is one of seven living Highwaymen, will host live painting demonstrations. Noted collectors Roger Lightle and Steve Carr will host gallery walks, while a film crew captures footage for an upcoming documentary. Catherine Enns, author of The Journey of the Highwaymen, will host a presentation and book signing.