Florida Highwaymen exhibit, “The Road Well Traveled,” coming to SJR State
“The Road Well Traveled,” an exhibit featuring paintings by the Florida Highwaymen, a group of 26 self-taught African American artists, will be on display at all three campuses of St. Johns River State College (SJR State) from August until November. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
The Florida Highwaymen created art depicting Florida’s natural beauty, which they sold from the trunks of their cars to free themselves from working in citrus groves and labor camps. Twenty of their paintings will be on display at SJR State in commemoration of the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act (H.R.1242/Public Law 115-102), which is intended “to recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African Americans since 1619.”
As explained on FloridaHighwaymen.com, “Originating in the mid-1950s, an era marked by racism and poverty, these self-taught entrepreneurs mentored each other while they painted on basic materials like Upson board for canvasses, and crown molding for frames. Local galleries shunned their work, so they peddled their art from car trunks along area roadways, hence their name. The surviving Highwaymen, now in their sixties and seventies, are an important chapter in America’s culture and history, indeed, a national treasure. Their self-determination in the face of adversity remains an important story of perseverance, inspiration and creativity.”
The 26 original Highwaymen were recognized by the State of Florida's Division of Cultural Affairs and inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2014.
Works by the following Highwaymen, including one Highwaywoman, will be on display at the dates and SJR State locations listed below: Curtis Arnett, A.E. “Ben” Backus, Al Black, George Buckner, Robert Butler, Mary Ann Carroll, Johnny Daniels, Willie Daniels, James Gibson, Alfred Hair, Issac Knight, Harold Newton, Lemuel Newton and Livingston Roberts.
August 23 - September 12: Orange Park campus, Thrasher-Horne Gallery, 283 College Drive, Orange Park, FL 32065. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Phone: 904-276-6815.
September 20 - October 9: St. Augustine campus Library, 2990 College Drive, St. Augustine, FL 32084. The exhibit is open Sunday, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., and Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Phone: 904-808-7474.
October 18 - November 22: Palatka campus, Florida School of the Arts, 5001 St. Johns Avenue, Palatka, FL 32177. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Phone: 386-312-4300.
SJR State Dean of Learning Resources Christina Will, a fan of the exhibit, said, “The paintings produced by the Highwaymen are a state and national treasure. It is an honor to feature the works of 14 of the original Highwaymen at each campus of SJR State as part of the Commemoration.”
To learn more and to view other SJR State Commemoration events, visit https://learningresources.sjrstate.edu/400/Highwaymen.
Director of Public Relations and Publications