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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 Floridas 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.