A journey worth the trip
Highwaymen artists go from roadside obscurity to national prominence; a new documentary and exhibit showcase their years of hard work.
By JEFF KLINKENBERG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 27, 2002
River Scene by Harold Newton
OCALA -- The Highwaymen are African-American artists from Fort Pierce who have been selling their landscape paintings along the roads and in Florida towns since the 1950s. For most of that time they painted in obscurity and for little profit. Their most expensive paintings typically sold for $35.
No more. In the last few years they have been discovered by the world at large. Now some of their paintings cost thousands.
The Appleton Museum, which is associated with Florida State University, is exhibiting a huge collection of Highwaymen paintings through the summer. But Sunday will be a special day. A long-awaited video about the Highwaymen, by documentary film maker Jack Hambrick, will debut at 2 p.m. After intermission, there will be a discussion of the paintings featuring art historians, art collectors and Highwaymen painter Robert Butler.
The collection features more than 120 works from most of the 26 artists. Included are giant paintings that have never been exhibited.
Also at the Appleton
-- "Speak Softly and Carry a Beagle: The Art of Charles Schulz," organized by the Minnesota Museum of American Art and the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.
The exhibit features original concept drawings for the Peanuts comic strips, 40 original strips, copies of historic strips, quotes from Schulz, biographical information and Peanuts collectibles. Through Sept. 15.
-- "Cruising: Handcrafted Cars as Sculpture." Three sculptures by Tom Benner, based on a 1957 De Soto, a 1957 Pontiac Skychief and a 1958 Chevy Apache. Through July 7.
-- "Impressions: America, Britain and Canada." Three related exhibits of 19th century art, including post-impressionist works. Through July 21.
The Highwaymen exhibit is at the Appleton Museum of Art, 4333 NE Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala, through Sept. 1. To get there, exit Interstate 75 at State Road 40 (exit 69) and drive 7 miles east. Museum is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Admission: $10 general, $8 seniors, $6 teachers and students, $5 ages 10 to 18, free for children. Group discounts available. (352) 236-7100.
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