Against All Odds: The Original Highwaymen Painters

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Jun 10, 2009 / 1 comments

Closing Reception, Saturday, June 20, 10:00-4:00, for
Against All Odds: The Original Highwaymen Painters
WINTER PARK, FL —Crealdé School of Art presents a closing reception for Against All Odds: The Original Highwaymen Painters at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, 642 W. New England Avenue, Winter Park, Florida 32789.

Artist James Gibson of Fort Pierce, Florida, one of the original Highwaymen painters, will be present all day and displaying his contemporary works. The paintings will be available for sale, with a percentage of the proceeds benefitting the Heritage Center. Come to Hannibal Square, have lunch, shop, and meet one of Florida’s cultural treasures, James Gibson.

Gibson got his start in 1959. The all-black high school in Fort Pierce couldn’t afford an art department, and a teacher persuaded a local artist to give lessons to the students in exchange for helping him with chores such as building frames. Those students soon began selling their works along the highways, and today they are known collectively as the Highwaymen. “If you think about it, that’s what we were doing – loading up our cars and driving up and down the highway,” he says.

It is impossible to know how many works Gibson has painted – certainly thousands over the years, nearly all capturing Florida’s natural scenery. Former Governor Jeb Bush has one of his premier works in his office, and the King and Queen of Spain also have his works on display. There are 28 artists who are considered members of the movement. Gibson is one of the two or three best known.


Original highwayman - james gibson

James Gibson


The exhibition, which closes on June 27, represents 19 of the original Highwaymen artists from Fort Pierce, Florida, including Harold Newton, Alfred Hair, Al Black, and James Gibson. This is a group of African-American men and women, who, in the midst of the deepest segregation of the post-war era, found success through their paintings depicting Florida’s natural landscapes, beautifying the world and becoming part of Florida’s cultural history.


Original highwaymen - Al Hair

Alfred Hair


Curated by the Orange County Regional History Center from the collection of Geoff Cook.

Biographical background on Mr. Gibson courtesy of Winter Park Magazine.

The Visiting Exhibition Series at the Hannibal Square Heritage Center is funded through a Tourist Development Grant from Orange County Government, Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Winter Park. For group tours, gallery talks, or special needs accommodations, please call 407-539-2680.

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Crealdé School of Art is a community based non-profit arts organization established in 1975. It features a year-round curriculum of over 90 visual arts classes for students of all ages, two galleries, the Contemporary Sculpture Garden, and award-winning outreach programs. Crealdé’s second campus, the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, opened in 2007 in partnership with the City of Winter Park, offers innovative programming in the arts and humanities with a focus on local history, cultural preservation, and southern folklore. Through the award-winning Heritage Collection, the center pays tribute to contributions of Winter Park’s historic African American community. For more information, call:


Crealdé School of Art: (407) 671-1886; open M-Th. 9-5, F 9-1, Sat. 9-2.


Heritage Center: 407-539-2680; , open Tu.-Th. 12-4, F 12-5, Sat. 10-2.

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