Fort Pierce preparing for Florida Highwaymen Celebration Weekend 2024

The Backus Museum in Fort Pierce, FL will present its annual Highwaymen Celebration Weekend 2024 February 16 through 18, 2024. The event, along with admission to the Museum, will be free during regular hours. Visitors can enjoy a range of special offerings outside and inside.

The highlight of the weekend takes place on the Museum’s Outdoor Mural Plaza, where people seeking to start or build their personal collections of Highwaymen paintings will be able to browse an impressive selection offered for purchase by professional dealers, specializing in the vintage works of these artists. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the current state of the art market and to explore owning an original work of art for your home or office.

The exhibition, Fast Forward: The Original Florida Highwaymen on the Way to Fame 1954-2004 will be on display inside the Museum, with free gallery talks for the public each day. The annual special exhibition expands upon the year-round display of Highwaymen paintings on view, a display which includes video excerpts from the award-winning documentary film “The Highwaymen: Legends of the Road.”

The Highwaymen are a loose collective of Florida artists who learned landscape painting techniques and began a creative enterprise of selling their bold and rapidly-produced works of art to customers up and down the state’s Atlantic Coast and beyond from the trunks of cars. This movement started in Fort Pierce in the 1950s at a time in the racially segregated South when opportunities were limited for African Americans, yet they persevered and succeeded.

In 2004, 26 of the original artists were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, and in 2016 the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American Culture and History opened with 18 Highwaymen paintings in its collection.

This year, the Backus Museum’s Highwaymen Celebration Weekend includes daily experiences and activities:

Browse and Purchase Vintage Florida Highwaymen

A past Backus Museum Highwaymen Weekend. Photo Courtesy of Backus Museum.
A past Backus Museum Highwaymen Weekend. Photo Courtesy of Backus Museum.

The best part of the weekend celebration every year is the impressive selection of classic and vintage Highwaymen paintings offered for purchase by expert, professional dealers, specializing works by these celebrated artists. This part of the event takes place outdoors in the Museum’s Mural Plaza.

Special Florida Highwaymen Exhibition

When a nineteen-year-old Harold Newton became inspired to paint the Florida landscape in 1954, his vision, courage, and accomplishments encouraged his friends and neighbors to take up paintbrushes and follow a new path as professional artists. Over time, dozens of individuals joined the venture and unintentionally founded a movement.

After more than fifty years in becoming an overnight success, the 26 landscape artists now known as The Original Highwaymen were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. This exhibition of rarely seen paintings, gathered from private collections, celebrates their first fifty years of fame and bold course forward to the hard-won triumph of statewide recognition.

Gallery Talks

The Museum will offer special gallery presentations on the Florida Highwaymen exhibition at 11:15 am & 2:15 pm Friday and Saturday; 1:15 pm & 3:00 pm on Sunday.

7TH Annual Florida Highwaymen Heritage Trail Art Show & Festival                                                                                            

The City of Fort Pierce’s 7th Annual Highwaymen Heritage Trail Art Show and Festival returns this weekend on Saturday, February 17, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm and located at Moore’s Creek Linear Park (435 N 7th Street), at the corner of Avenue D and 7th Street in Fort Pierce. Featuring several of the living Original Highwaymen, Tribute booths to artists who have passed, “2nd Generation” artists, as well as other artists, live music, food vendors, and more.

As part of the Festival, the City is organizing a bus tour of the Highwaymen Heritage Trail, with the first stop here at the A.E. Backus Museum, where the story begins; advance registration is required (space is limited). For more information, contact 772-467-3161 or visit Highwaymen Heritage Trail Festival | Fort Pierce, FL – Official Website (cityoffortpierce.com)

Win a Florida Artwork

The Backus Museum’s annual fundraising raffle celebrating the importance of Florida Art is offering the chance to win a dynamic masterpiece of a familiar Florida subject by the internationally-renowned marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey valued at $10,000. Blanco Solo, 2013 features the artist’s signature subject, an Atlantic White Marlin cruising through a seascape of crystal clear ocean with a splash of sargassum. The painting’s composition gives a hint of the surface world above in the scattered glints of sunlight, but it is the expansive, cool blues that hint at the depths below, where the sleek and majestic marlin reigns supreme

This exceptional work of art will be awarded to the winning ticket holder on Sunday, March 3 at 12:30 pm (you do not have to be present to win). Only 3,000 tickets are available this year for $25 each, or three for $60, or six for $100 for the best deal and best chances! The Museum’s Highwaymen Celebration Weekend is an excellent time to exercise your luck for a good cause.

All dates and programming subject to change; please check the website for any updates or cancellations. We appreciate your understanding, your patience, and your support as we navigate the continuing pandemic challenges this season.

About the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery

A.E. Backus (American, 1906-1990). Tornado of April 15 1958, Fort Pierce, Florida, 1958. Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in.
A.E. Backus (American, 1906-1990). Tornado of April 15 1958, Fort Pierce, Florida, 1958. Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. Kiplinger Family Collection.

Since its founding in 1960 and the first day the doors opened in 1961, the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery has been a center and catalyst for creativity and culture in our region. The Museum houses the nation’s largest public presentation of artwork by Florida’s preeminent painter, A.E. “Bean” Backus (1906-1990), and is home to the state’s only permanent multimedia exhibition on the Florida Highwaymen.

In addition to preserving and perpetuating the artistic and humanitarian legacy of Backus, the Museum organizes and hosts changing exhibitions from artists of regional, national and international acclaim. The Backus Museum was recognized as the 2022 Best of the Best Community Choice Award for Best Art Gallery; and the 2021 Best Tourist Attraction – 2018 Best Museum / Best of the Treasure Coast by the readers of Indian River Magazine.

Regular Hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM; Sunday, 12 Noon to 4 PM (closed Monday-Tuesday).

Admission is $5 per person; AARP, AAA, and Veterans with appropriate ID receive a $2 discount. Students with school ID, children under 18, active duty military, and current members are always free.

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