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Florida Highwaymen Show March 20-23

Curtis Arnett Will Be Named Artist of the Year Before this Year’s Annual Florida Highwaymen Show

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Curtis Arnett Painting
A painting by famed Florida Highwaymen artist, Curtis Arnett.

Florida’s famed Highwaymen painters will once again showcase their work at an annual reception. The original Florida Higwaymen are a legendary group of 26 self-taught, African-American painters (including one woman) who created hundreds of iconic South Florida landscapes including the Florida Everglades, moonlit beaches and sunrises. The artists were made famous in the late 1950s and 60s when they sold their works from the trunks of their cars along U.S. Highway 1 for as little as $10. The artists used painting to escape the tomato fields and orange groves during segregation.


In partnership with the event, The Pompano Beach Historical Society will also present The Artist of the Year Award to Curtis Arnett, one of the youngest Highwaymen who sold his paintings in the 1960s. Arnett started painting young, selling his first painting for $6 at the age of 16.

While in grade school Arnett met Alfred Hair, a charismatic Highwaymen painter who came to do a painting demonstration at Arnett’s school. At the time, the young Arnett had never heard of oil paints. He eagerly went home to experiment using leftover paint he found in old paint cans from construction sites and began painting on
construction board.

Later he met A.E. Backus, another artist known for influencing the signature style of the Highwaymen. Arnett told Backus he wanted to paint landscapes. Backus replied he should head over to Frankie and Johnny’s, a nearby bar known for its raucous customers. There, Arnett met some of the artists in his neighborhood and began selling his work with the Highwaymen. He is best known for his tropical landscapes.

There will be multiple events taking place in celebration of the Highwaymen Show, including:

WHEN AND WHERE:

• The Artist of the Year award will be presented to Curtis Arnett on Wednesday March 20 from 6:30 to 8:30pm at The Pompano Beach Historical Society (217 NE Fourth Ave., Pompano Beach). A presentation will be given about Arnett’s life. Light food will be served.

• A show preview and reception will take place on Friday, March 22 from 7 to 9pm at the Historic Woman’s Club (314 NE Second St., Pompano Beach). Attendees will get first-looks at paintings and spend one-on-one time with the artists. Hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine will be served. The reception is $40/pp. Tickets can be purchased at pompanohistory.com

• The show will continue on Saturday, March 23 from 10am to 3pm at the Historic Woman’s Club (314 NE Second St., Pompano Beach). The Kester Cottage Museums will also be open for tours. Cost is $5/pp. For more information, please email info.pompanohistory@gmail.com or call 954-782-3015.

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