Florida Highwaymen exhibit, sale set for March 18-19 in Pompano

The famed Highwaymen painters will exhibit and sell their works of an unspoiled Florida this weekend in Pompano Beach.

Nine of the self-taught, African-American painters from Fort Pierce will set up inside the historic Sample-McDougald House, selling their vibrant landscapes, from Everglades sunsets to moonlit beaches to signature royal poinciana.

Meet the artists and get first pick of landscapes at a reception from 5:30 to 9 p.m. March 18, and at a public opening from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 19 at the historic home. Tickets for Saturday's reception, which includes live music, food and beverages, are $50. Sunday’s show is $5.

“The Florida Highwaymen event is so special because it offers a different cultural perspective of African-American art. These artists are one of the most unique groups of ethnic landscape artists in the world,” says Peter Williams, president of the Pompano Beach Historical Society.

Members of the group expected to attend include Curtis Arnett, Al Black, Willie Daniels, James Gibson, Isaac Knight, Roy McLendon Sr., Willie C. Reagan, and Arnold Lewis and Doretha Hair Truesdell, widow of founding member Alfred Hair.

Black, an original member of the group, will discuss his more than 50 years of painting on the road at 6:30 p.m. March 15 at the Pompano Beach Historical Society, 217 NE Fourth Ave. Admission is free.

The Highwaymen painters became known for quickly creating vivid scenes of wild Florida. The works, often still wet, were sold from the trunks of the artists’ cars along U.S. Highway 1 for as little as $10 in the late 1950s and ’60s. They used painting to escape the tomato fields and orange groves during segregation.

“What I love about the Florida Highwaymen event is sharing this heritage with the families who visit during the weekend. The artwork is colorful and rich. It’s appealing to all ages,” said Dirk DeJong, president of the Sample-McDougald House.

Today, some original oils sell for tens of thousands of dollars, and Highwaymen works hang in homes across the United States, as well as in the White House, in city halls and museums.

The original 26 artists, including one woman, Mary Ann Carroll, were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004.

The annual show benefits preservation efforts for the 4,500-square-foot pioneer homestead built in 1916, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sample-McDougald House is at 450 NE 10th St., Pompano Beach. Info: 954-691-5686, PompanoHistory.com.

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