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Who are The Florida Highwaymen?

You may have seen their work and not even realized — keep reading to learn about this group of 26 men and one woman who left a lasting impact on contemporary art history.

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Florida Highwayman R. L. Lewis finishing an original piece.

Photo via Florida Memory

Did you know October is National Arts + Humanities Month? To celebrate, join us for a look back on The Florida Highwaymen, known for depicting Florida’s beaches, wetlands, and swampy marshes.

Formed during the 1950s, the Highwaymen were a world-renowned group of 26 African American self-taught landscape artists who traveled statewide selling their works door-to-door. By the time the group disbanded in the 1980s, they had collectively painted ~200,000 pieces and spent 30 years traveling Florida’s highways, selling work from the trunks of their cars.

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Highwayman Curtis Arnett (center) with former Attorney General Pam Bondi (left) and curator Jeanna Brunson (right) at the Museum of Florida History | Photo via Florida Memory

The Highwaymen are revered for their work ethic and impact on the art community. Their works are celebrated as having both national + international significance, both for the quality of the work and for the social circumstances surrounding the segregation-era entrepreneurs.

Of the 26 painters, Robert Butler is the only one credited with having painted all Florida ecosystems. Robert was commissioned by the Florida Farm Bureau to complete a piece paying homage to Florida’s Old Capitol in 2006, just two years after the entire group of Highwaymen was inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame in 2004.

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Robert Butler (left) at the dedication ceremony for his commissioned Old Capitol piece | Photo via Florida Memory

In their 30 years of being traveling artists and entrepreneurs, the group of 25 men and one woman left a mark on contemporary art history.

If you’re looking to own a piece of history, The Curated Collective carries a selection. Peruse the artwork online or stop by the storefront (401 S. Florida Ave.) Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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