Florida’s First Highwaymen

July 14-September 23, 2017
Sara May Love Gallery

Florida’s First Highwaymen is an exhibition featuring the artists who first began the group later identified as “Highwaymen”. The story of how an established, popular, white landscape painter A.E. "Bean" Backus taught two young black men, Alfred Hair and Harold Newton, to paint in Fort Pierce, Florida, in the late 1950's and early 1960’s, and the impact socially and culturally. Those artists met and taught others to paint in the core group, some of whom also studied with Backus, including Mary Ann Carroll, Sam Newton and James Gibson. At that time, black artists were not permitted to exhibit and sell work in galleries, nor were they represented in any museum - even the art of landscape painting itself was seen as a "white" venture at the time. Yet these young painters learned to paint landscapes and earned a living selling paintings along roadsides, in private homes, and parking lots. Gadsden Arts borrowed work from the A.E. Backus Museum of Art and several private collections.


Download the Florida's First Highwaymen Catalog HERE.




Read the stories behind the paintings at the Gadsden Arts Blog:

Flaming Poinciana Tree and Daddy's South Florida Palette 


Special Thanks
Lending Institution and Collectors


A.E Backus Museum of Art • Peggy Brady • Annette Cowart • Regina Davis
Zoe Golloway • Julie and Hal Lewis • Sheree and David Porter • Elaine and Bob Woodward


Presented by


Sponsored by


Damfino's Cafe and Market • Sandy Higdon • McMillan Design • Dean Mitchell


Reception Committee


Nancy Adams • Anne Draper • Juliane Hackney • Ranie Thompson


Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.



Sponsored in part by the State of Florida, 
Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs,
and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture