Wellington has announced the return of a free public art exhibit “The Art of Florida’s Highwaymen” at the Wellington Community Center (12150 W. Forest Hill Blvd.). The exhibit will be on display for public viewing on Saturday, Jan. 27 and Sunday, Jan. 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Presentations with art historian Roger Lightle will take place each day at 2 p.m. R.A. McLendon, a key member of the Highwaymen who began his painting career in 1955, will be painting live on site.
In the late 1950s, during the Jim Crow era, a small group of Black artists from the Fort Pierce and Vero Beach area started a business venture during a time when employment opportunities available were most likely low-paying, minimum wage jobs.
Eventually, the group numbered 26 self-taught artists. Unable to display and sell their work through traditional channels such as galleries and art agents, they traveled the roads selling their paintings to business owners, real estate brokers, lawyer’s offices, banks and others along the way. This unconventional sales method earned them the name of “The Highwaymen” sometime in the mid-1990s. For more than 60 years, the group captured Florida’s natural beauty in an estimated 200,000 paintings, depicting striking views of backwoods scenes, breaking waves, palm-lined beaches, rivers and more.
The Highwaymen have been featured in The New York Times and on National Public Radio, and were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. Their work is on display in the White House and the Florida governor’s mansion, in addition to countless homes and offices across the country.
For more information, call the Wellington Community Center at (561) 753-2484, or visit www.wellingtonfl.gov/events.