The Tampa Museum of Art continues to celebrate and honor the richness and complexity of Florida’s cultural tapestry with its newest exhibition, Living Color: The Art of the Highwaymen. The exhibit will be open and available for the community to view now through Sunday, March 28, 2021.
Living Color brings together 60 paintings from five outstanding private collections. The exhibit features the works of a group of African American artists known as the Florida Highwaymen. These artists depicted the state’s natural environment and rich tones through their unique, self-taught painting styles.
The Florida Highwaymen produced artwork from the 1950s to the 1980s. The artists in this group included Al Black, Mary Ann Carroll, Willie Daniels, Johnny Daniels, James Gibson, Alfred Hair, Roy McLendon, Harold Newton, Sam Newton, Willie Reagan and Livingston Roberts.
The Florida Highwaymen painted as a means to make a living. Many were quite successful, especially Hair and Newton. They faced limitations imposed by the racial prejudice of their time. The group had little to no formal training or access to conventional art markets.
To overcome these obstacles, they produced large numbers of works that could be sold at affordable prices, often door-to-door and sometimes from their cars’ trunks along such thoroughfares as Route 1.
“We are pleased to be able to bring Living Color to Tampa because this exhibition speaks to the resourcefulness and resilience of this group of artists. The Florida Highwaymen, based in and around Ft. Pierce, developed their own creative community during a time in Florida’s history that coincided with an economic boom in the state and African Americans fighting for equal rights,” said Joanna Robotham, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Tampa Museum of Art.
Capacity of the museum is limited to 50 percent. All visitors are required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
The Tampa Museum of Art, located at 120 W. Gasparilla Plz. in downtown Tampa, is open seven days a week, Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Thursday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, please call 274-8130 or visit tampamuseum.org.