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PHSC Celebrates its 50th Anniversary and Black History Month: Highwaymen

Early Morning River Scene

The Highwaymen

The Highwaymen were a group of 26 African-American artists and entrepreneurs, most active in the 1950's -1980's, who traveled on the weekends selling their vivid, affordable paintings that depicted Florida's natural beauty.

  • Barred from white-only galleries, in order to make a living, these artists sold their work at humble prices on roadsides and even door-to-door. They were especially popular with tourists, motels, and offices.
  • Alfred Hair was one of the first of the group, studying under the Fort Pierce artist A.E. Backus in the early 1950s. Hair went on to mentor and inspire many others, until his death in 1970.
  • In order to make a profit, the artists pioneered a "speed painting" method and used inexpensive construction materials instead of traditional canvas and frames. Sometimes they would sell a painting before it was even completely dry.
  • While interest in the Florida landscapes waned as styles changed, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Highwaymen's work since the mid 1990's.


Christiansen, Tess, "Florida Highwaymen: From the Roadside to the National Collection," National Museum of African American History and Culture, November 21, 2017,

Lyden, Jacki, "The Landscape Art Legacy of Florida's Highwaymen," NPR, September 19, 2012,