Tampa Museum of Art highlights African American artists in "Living Color"

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Tampa Museum of Art highlights African American artists in "Living Color"
Mary Ann Carroll, Untitled [Backcountry twilight], n.d. Oil on Masonite board, 17 ¾ x 23 ½ in. Courtesy of the Jacobs Collection © Wanda Renee Mills. Photography by Tariq Gibran.

TAMPA, FLA.- 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. On view through March 28, 2021, Living Color brings together 60 paintings from five outstanding private collections, featuring the works of the core group of Florida Highwaymen. These celebrated African American artists depicted the state’s natural environment and rich tones through their unique self-taught painting styles.

The Highwaymen produced artwork from the 1950s to the 1980s. Artists including Al Black, Mary Ann Carroll, Willie Daniels, Johnny Daniels, James Gibson, Alfred Hair, Roy McLendon, Harold Newton, Sam Newton, Willie Reagan, and Livingston Roberts, painted as a means to making a living, and many were quite successful, especially Alfred Hair and Harold Newton. Facing limitations imposed by the racial prejudice of their time, Highwaymen artists had little or 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’re 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 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.

Furthering the momentum of TMA’s centennial year, Tampa Bay residents can look forward to studio art classes and educational programs offering in-depth insights into the Highwaymen artwork.

The exhibition is organized by the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) and curated by Gary Monroe in collaboration with Hansen Mulford, Senior Curator at OMA. A fully illustrated catalogue published by OMA in conjunction with Living Color is available at the TMA Museum Store.

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