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The Highwaymen Florida's Outsider Artists

Jack Hambrick  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Directors: Jack Hambrick
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Janson Media
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2003
  • Run Time: 58 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008AJV6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #394,379 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

This is the story of a group of young, untrained African-American landscape painters that emerged from the small central Florida town of Fort Pierce in the late 50s and early 60s. Segregation and racist attitudes of the time prevented them from working with traditional art galleries. Instead, they traveled throughout the state selling their paintings out of the trunks of their cars. The going rate was around $35 a painting. They painted on wallboard because it was cheaper than canvas. Back then, some called it "junk art." But in 1995 the Highwaymen became recognized by the art world. Today their paintings sometimes sell for thousands of dollars, and they are considered an important part of Florida’s 20th Century cultural history. It is estimated that their aggregate work may exceed 200,000 paintings.

The Highwaymen had no pretensions about their art. They saw themselves as craftsmen, painting pictures strictly to earn a living. It was a lot better than picking oranges or whatever other dead-end jobs were available to them. They mainly painted Florida back-country scenes – coastal savannahs, hardwood hammocks, lonely tannin-stained rivers... expansive skies, capacious clouds, using bold strokes of dramatic colors. Theirs is an inspirational story of ingenuity and entrepreneurship, and ultimately, of perseverance in the face of societal limitations.

DVD Bonus Features include a Gallery of 56 Paintings from 14 Highwaymen, and Biographies of artists Alfred Hair, Harold Newton and Bean Backus.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars art, business, race, and regionalism June 1, 2005
A group of Floridian Blacks painted local landscapes and traveled to various towns selling their work. Now, it is being appreciated for the beauty and originality that comprises it.

For many artists, irrespective of class, art is about business. I love how the documentary shows that selling the art was as much of a preoccupation as creating the art. In fact, one of the school's leaders basically told his friends, "Learn this and we can make money off of it." These Black artists faced discrimination in the art world and the general employment arena, so this concern with money had nothing to do with silly concerns about "selling out." In fact, this documentary is rich because both the artists and the art critics discuss canvases, art supplies, artistic influences, perspectives, the motion of light and other items of concern to serious art collectors.

The controversial nature of the term "highwaymen" is discussed near the end of the documentary. The school should have been called "highwayPEOPLE" because there is a woman who is a member. In fact, she was the most articulate living artist of the school to be interviewed.

There is a double-edge sword here. On the one hand, I loved seeing a biracial coalition of people supporting this art. White artists, collectors, and ordinary people recognize the beauty and uniqueness of this work. However, there is a way that this work is not legitimized until whites gave it the thumbs-up. This art was nice no matter if VIPs appreciated it, so the white support comes off as a bit patronizing, even unintentionally. Still, to the documentary makers' defense, though a white artist was the major influence for this school, he is not mentioned until the middle of the piece; black leaders of the movement are brought up first.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as Good as the UPDATED 2008 version July 19, 2009
By Shlomo
Verified Purchase
I seen the 2008 version on tv and purchased this one thinking this was it BUT it's from 2003. They basically remade this one (same director) and improved it imo so would definately recomend getting the newer one and it's also titled 'The Highwaymen' and has a black cover and is from 2008. I'd give 3 to 3.5 stars to this one and 4 to 5 stars to the newer improved version.
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