During Black History Month 2019, The Spady Cultural Heritage Museum and the Arts Garage will welcome noted Florida painters, known as Highwaymen, to share their distinct style of art with local fans.
On February 23 and 24, “Delray Beach Presents the Florida Highwaymen Renaissance,” sponsored in part by IBM Southeast Federal Credit Union, will welcome Florida Highwaymen RL Lewis, Isaac Knight, Curtis Arnette and Willy Regan.
According to Artsy.com, Florida’s “Highwaymen” were a group of around two dozen black painters who made a living selling their landscape paintings out of car trunks in the Jim Crow South. Their style has been passed down to and re-imagined by modern-day African-American painters.
In Delray Beach, a special exhibit of their work, created with the theme of “Capture Florida as art history before it disappears” will be on display from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Feb. 23-24, 2019, at the Spady Museum and Arts Garage. Other special events include:
• Saturday, Feb.23: 1 p.m. – Live painting at the Spady’s Williams Cottage, 170 NW 5th Avenue, and Arts Garage, 94 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444
• Sunday, Feb. 24: 1 p.m. – Reception and talk with artists at Arts Garage, , 94 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444
Delray Beach Commissioner Shirley Johnson, who conceived the events, will be the official host of the reception-talk.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime to meet the artists who created an artistic legacy,” Johnson said.
From the 1950s through the ’70s, the Highwaymen produced more than 200,000 paintings of Florida’s diverse ecology – vivid scenes depicting fiery red sunsets over aquamarine bays or the Spanish moss-covered banyan trees stretching over the state’s backwater regions. Selling their work straight from their car trunks, the group sold paintings to day-tripping tourists along U.S. Route 1 on Florida’s Atlantic Coast and to (predominantly white) business owners in the banks, motels, and laundromats of their native Fort Pierce, even as galleries turned them away.
The paintings originally went for $25 or $30 each, and were typically sold on the same day they were made, transported in bundles by car or bike in handmade frames and often still glistening with wet oil paint. Today, paintings by the Highwaymen are included in the Smithsonian Collection; they can clear $10,000 at auction or in private sales; and originals by the group’s most prominent figures, Al Black, Alfred Hair, and Harold Newton, who is estimated to have made over 30,000 paintings alone, are coveted by a diverse fan base that includes the Obamas and Steven Spielberg.
“Living legends walk among us, and it is a privilege to be able to appreciate them while they are still here,” said Charlene Farrington, director of the Spady Museum.
Located at 170 NW Fifth Avenue in Delray Beach Florida, the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum is a black history museum and cultural center dedicated to sharing the cultural contributions of people of African descent. In addition to rotating exhibits, the museum hosts a history preservation bus tour, youth programming, genealogy workshops, lectures and panel discussions and MLK, Juneteenth and Kwanzaa celebrations. Exhibit Hours are 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday. Admission: $10; Members are free. For more information, call 561.279.8883, email [email protected] or visit www.spadymuseum.com.
IF YOU GO:
Delray Beach Presents the Florida Highwaymen Renaissance: Exhibit and Reception/Talk
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 23-24, 2019
Location: At the Spady Museum, 170 NW 5th Ave., and Arts Garage, 94 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33444
Historic Florida Highwaymen will showcase their unique way of capturing the environmental beauty of Florida, during a special Black History Month exhibit and reception/talk at the Spady Museum and Arts Garage. Florida Highwaymen RL Lewis, Isaac Knight, Curtis Arnette and Willy Regan will live paint on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Spady Museum’s Williams Cottage. On Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Arts Garage, Delray Beach Commissioner Shirley Johnson will host a reception and talk, where Highwaymen painters will participate in a discussion about their work. Sponsored in part by IBM Southeast Federal Credit Union and the City of Delray Beach