Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Highwaymen Florida's Outsider Artists|
Director: Jack Hambrick
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Documentary, African American Cinema
This is the story of a group of young, untrained African-American landscape painters that emerged from the small central Florida town of Fort Pierce in the late 50s and early 60s. Segregation and racist attitudes of the ti... more »
Art, business, race, and regionalism
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 06/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A group of Floridian Blacks painted local landscapes and traveled to various towns selling their work. Now, it is being appreciated for the beauty and originality that comprises it.
For many artists, irrespective of class, art is about business. I love how the documentary shows that selling the art was as much of a preoccupation as creating the art. In fact, one of the school's leaders basically told his friends, "Learn this and we can make money off of it." These Black artists faced discrimination in the art world and the general employment arena, so this concern with money had nothing to do with silly concerns about "selling out." In fact, this documentary is rich because both the artists and the art critics discuss canvases, art supplies, artistic influences, perspectives, the motion of light and other items of concern to serious art collectors.
The controversial nature of the term "highwaymen" is discussed near the end of the documentary. The school should have been called "highwayPEOPLE" because there is a woman who is a member. In fact, she was the most articulate living artist of the school to be interviewed.
There is a double-edge sword here. On the one hand, I loved seeing a biracial coalition of people supporting this art. White artists, collectors, and ordinary people recognize the beauty and uniqueness of this work. However, there is a way that this work is not legitimized until whites gave it the thumbs-up. This art was nice no matter if VIPs appreciated it, so the white support comes off as a bit patronizing, even unintentionally. Still, to the documentary makers' defense, though a white artist was the major influence for this school, he is not mentioned until the middle of the piece; black leaders of the movement are brought up first. This was a good effort, I guess.
No one ever uses the term "folk art" here. I guess this is because the artists did learn their skills through apprenticing. They didn't just make it up as they went along. Still, these are everyday people and it shows. Some are missing front teeth; a few have Jheri curls. They said "he'p" rather than "help" and "fo't" rather than "fort." One man added an extra plural to artists: "Me and the other artistses did X,Y, and Z." Hilarious! And nice!
Though the title includes "outsider art," they don't go into why these artist qualify. Maybe the term gets thrown around easily nowadays. The work is mostly of landscapes. However, there are some human figures, specifically black Floridians as the models. I wish they had spoken of those subjects more.
These artists suffer like other artists generally and other Black Americans in a racist society. Imprisonment, alcoholism, black-on-black crime all come up. Still, I love seeing black folks' work being appreciated. I loved seeing Black folk expressing themselves creatively. This was an amazing piece that all Black Americans interested in material arts should peep."
Not as Good as the UPDATED 2008 version
Shlomo | 07/19/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I seen the 2008 version on tv and purchased this one thinking this was it BUT it's from 2003. They basically remade this one (same director) and improved it imo so would definately recomend getting the newer one and it's also titled 'The Highwaymen' and has a black cover and is from 2008. I'd give 3 to 3.5 stars to this one and 4 to 5 stars to the newer improved version."