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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.

Add a heading - 2022-05-11T151058.742

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.


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.


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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