Florida Highwaymen art exhibit explores artists personal reflections

The Florida Highwaymen are known for their beautiful paintings of landscapes. 

The group of 26 African American artists got their start in the 1960s in Ft. Pierce during segregation. Because they were Black, they were not allowed to display their paintings in art galleries.

Alfred Hair was the founder of the group. Doretha Hair Truesdell is his widow. She told FOX 35’s LuAnne Sorrell she would often help paint the backgrounds, so Alfred could finish up to 20 paintings a day. The Art and History Museums of Maitland is holding a special Florida Highwaymen Art Exhibit told from her perspective.

Dan l. Hess is the curator.

"Once we met her and sat down, and she shared her memories with us, we knew we had to structure the whole exhibition around those recollections," Hess told Sorrell.

Truesdell calls the exhibit beautiful. "I felt so comfortable when I came here," she told Sorrell.

When the Highwaymen started, being a successful Black artist was unheard of.  Many African Americans worked for just a few dollars a day.  Not only did many of the Florida Highwaymen survive by selling their artwork, they thrived.

Back in the 60s, highwaymen paintings sold for around $25 each, now they can go for upwards of $50,000.

"Alfred would be amazed, but he would also feel that the way he felt even then, that he had to make a living, but he thought art should be in everybody’s life, so we gave away, just as many paintings as we sold," Truesdell remembers.

Twenty-six of the paintings in this exhibit are on loan from the Orange County Regional History Center, the rest are from Truesdell’s personal collection.

 You can see the exhibit at the Art and History Museums of Maitland through May 8, 2022.

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