Florida’s Only Original Highwaywoman, to Help Kick off Black History Month at Fort Lauderdale History Museum
Art Talk, Reception & Show : Why Preserving the Outsider Artist Legacy Matters!
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
They were known as the #Highwaymen, 26 African-American landscape artists from Fort Pierce Florida, who bucked the odds by overcoming the obstacles of the “Jim Crow” South, carving out a unique spot for themselves in Florida’s artistic and cultural history.
During the 1950’s and 60’s before the moniker “highwaymen” caught on, these largely anonymous artists made a living selling their original paintings of Florida landscapes from the trunks of their cars. Little did they know they were creating folk art under the radar of the traditional art world.
On Friday February 3rd, 2017 Mary Ann Carroll, Florida’s only Highwaywoman will be among a distinguished panel of art exhibitors at the Fort Lauderdale History Museum. Carroll, Second Generation Highwaymen Artist Kelvin Hair and Designer Marsha McDonald will discuss the importance of preserving the legacy of Outsider Art. The discussion will be moderated by Clare Vickery of Grace Arts, FL.
Highwaymen Artwork will be on display and available for purchase after the discussion from (7–9 PM). The event is free and open to the public.
The Friday talk and exhibit will kick off a Black History weekend at the Fort Lauderdale History Museum highlighting diverse Florida Outsider Artists and will include pop up exhibits and conversations. Click here for the complete schedule of events.
Meet the artists
Mary Ann Carroll is the only woman of the twenty-six Highwaymen Florida Artists Hall of Fame awardees. While many of the painters stopped making landscapes after tAlfred Hair died, Carroll kept on painting as she needed the money to raise her seven children. She was born to a sharecropping family in Georgia and has strong religious faith. She had no formal training in art but Harold Newton taught her to paint. Mary Ann quickly got to know other painters in Fort Pierce because she was one of the few artists who had a car and could make selling on the highway possible. Her first road trip was with Livingston Roberts and a few other painters. They went to Melbourne and sold out at the first medical building they visited on US 1. She was fearful to sell on the road alone and knew there was racial unrest throughout Florida and people didn’t always treat her well. Out of necessity, she sometimes took some of her children with her, but she persists today as one of the most beloved of this remarkable group of painters. Her daughter and son in law will visit Fort Lauderdale February 3–5.
Kelvin Hair is the son of Alfred Hair. His brief interactions with his father prior to his tragic death left an indelible mark on him. Kelvin learned to paint from his father’s close friends and began to learn the quick painting style. He has no formal artistic training and lives in Fort Pierce working full time as a fireman while growing his art business, defining his own aesthetic while continuing to paint in ‘The Highwaymen’ style. He has been hired by Florida Citrus Industry and other larger corporations to paint images used for marketing the beauty of ‘Old Florida,’ its rich agricultural and nostalgic past. In 2012, Governor Rick Scott recognized Kelvin as an emerging Black artist of Florida as part of Black history month. Kelvin has also taught painting in Florida schools including in Broward County during the first virtual art classrooms to five schools from the Dillard Center for the Arts. Kelvin Hair will visit Fort Lauderdale February 3–5.
Highwaymen books available for purchase and autograph by the artists Feb 3–5.
Funding for this organization and project provided in part by the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward Cultural Council.