The Highwaymen introduces a group of young black artists who painted their way out of the despair awaiting them in citrus groves and packing houses of 1950s Florida. Emerging in the late 1950s, the Highwaymen created idyllic, quickly realised images of the Florida dream and peddled some 100,000 of them from the trunks of their cars. Working with inexpensive materials, they produced an astonishing number of landscapes that depict a romanticised Florida--a faraway place of wind-swept palm trees, billowing cumulus clouds, wetlands, lakes, rivers, ocean, and setting sun. With paintings still wet, they loaded their cars and travelled the state's east coast, selling the images door-to-door and store-to-store, in restaurants, offices, courthouses, and bank lobbies. At first, the paintings sold like boom-time real estate. In succeeding decades, however, they were consigned to attics and garage sales. Rediscovered in the mid-1990s, today they are recognised as the work of American folk artists.
Gary Monroe tells the story behind the Highwaymen, a loose association of 25 men and 1 woman from the Ft. Pierce area--a fascinating mixture of individual talent, collective enterprise, and cultural heritage. He also offers a critical look at the paintings and the movement's development. Added to this are personal reminiscences by some of the artists, along with a gallery of 63 full-colour reproductions of their paintings.