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Highwaymen Art - Willie Daniels

BEGINNING IN THE LATE 1950s, a group of mostly self-taught African American artists devoted themselves to capturing Florida’s natural landscapes. During a time when black artists were generally focused on figuration and the best way to express themselves in the wake of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, they painted windblown palm trees, reflective coastal waters, grassy marshes, crashing ocean waves, tropical sunsets, and their iconic poinciana tree.

Working in the Fort Pierce area, the artists became known as the Highwaymen. Shut out of museums and art galleries, they asserted their economic independence before and after segregation. Rather than settling for back-breaking work in local citrus groves, they forged a living with their art.

Since most galleries in the 1950s and 1960s refused to sell African-American art, these artists sold their creations for about twenty-five dollars apiece out of the trunks of their cars along Florida’s Atlantic coast. They went door to door at white-owned businesses and residences; they set up along U.S. 1 and peddled to passing tourists.

Decades later, after many had stopped painting, a prominent art collector declared their style distinctly Floridian and coined them the “Florida Highwaymen” because of where they commonly sold their art. The New York Times wrote about them. Prices soared. People started discovering old Florida landscape paintings in attics, yard sales, and thrift stores.

Today paintings by noted Florida Highwaymen sell for anywhere from $500 to $45,000 in galleries, antique stores, and art shows.

Mr. Daniels is one of the few living original Highwaymen. Masterpiece By Numbers is proud to license Mr. Daniels' work and to make sure that he is paid a royalty for every Willie Daniels paint by number kit that we sell.

 

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