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Hunting For The Highwaymen

They were a group of young black artists who painted pictures at high speed, then sold them for their cars. Today, their work has become an obsession with local collectors.

Florida in the late 1950s was a very different place from the one we know today: softer, slower, with more time to smell the orange blossoms. Remember, we’re talking pre-I-95 and I-75 — even Mickey didn’t live here in those days.

It was about this time in Fort Pierce that a group of 20 young black men and one woman began painting Florida scenes on upson board. They would then load them aboard their cars and peddle them around the state — a technique that later earned them the nickname “The Highwaymen.”

What makes their work remarkable is that only one of the group, Alfred Hair, had studied painting, under nationally renowned Fort Pierce artist A. E. “Bean” Backus. The other Highwaymen seem to have just absorbed some of Backus’ gifts through visits to his studio.

Read the entire article in the Summer 2000 issue