Artists of  Old Florida

  1. Art historian Jim Fitch is credited with coming up with the name The Highwaymen to market Florida's black landscape artists. While not all the artists approved of the name, Fitch brought them to the attention of serious art investors for the first time.

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  2. Doretha and Alfred Hair lived the artists' life, surrounded by their painter friends and the rising African American musicians who passed through Fort Pierce playing the Chitlin' Circuit. Doretha made Alfred's frames and learned to paint. Then, in an eyeblink, that life was over.

    # vimeo.com/70262721 Uploaded
  3. When blacks of her generation weren't allowed to sell their art in galleries -- and black women of her generation worked as teachers, babysitters or fruit pickers -- Mary Ann Carroll painted alongside Harold Newton, Alfred Hair and other segregation-era landscape artists who later became known as the Florida Highwaymen. Art supported her when she was raising her children as a single mom, and continued to support her through her life. She is the only woman in the group termed "the original" Highwaymen, honored in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

    This video is part of a longer interview recorded in Ms. Carroll's Fort Pierce home in 2014.

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  4. God gave Charles Walker talent. His parents gave him love. Dedication did the rest.

    # vimeo.com/115398038 Uploaded
  5. As a girl, Zanobia Jefferson studied art with the luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance. When she began teaching at all-black Lincoln Park High, Fort Pierce's renowned painter A. E. 'Beanie' Backus reached out to her students across the color divide. A door opened in their minds.

    # vimeo.com/72616529 Uploaded

Artists of Old Florida

Patricia Borns Plus

In the segregation-era 1950s, a handful of African American men -- and one woman -- found inspiration in a white artist named A.E. "Bean" Backus. Soon they were turning out paintings like Krispy Kreme doughnuts - up to 200,000 landscapes by some estimates…


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In the segregation-era 1950s, a handful of African American men -- and one woman -- found inspiration in a white artist named A.E. "Bean" Backus. Soon they were turning out paintings like Krispy Kreme doughnuts - up to 200,000 landscapes by some estimates - and selling them up and down Florida highways from the trunks of their cars. Their technicolor sunsets and flaming poinciana trees defined the Florida landscape through the mid-20th century. Many lived to see America elect its first black president, and are still painting today. But while their paintings are famous, the faces behind them have seldom been seen. I hope this project undertaken with the City of Fort Pierce will change that.

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