Our local bank, in honor of Black History Month, hosted an evening with Mary Ann Carroll. Mary Ann is the only female Florida Highwaymen Artist. There were only 26 original Highwaymen Artist.
The Florida Highwaymen Artist Movement began in the late 1950s and continued into the 1980s. African-American artists on the east coast of Florida (mainly from Fort Pierce) began painting landscapes on cheap wooden boards and selling them door-to-door as well as along the roadsides and highways (sometimes even before the paint was dry). These artists were self-taught and mentored one another. These talented artists created over 200,000 works of art.
Bold colors, broad brushstrokes, loose composition and minimal detail are the hallmark of this original American art form. Today some of these paintings can cost thousands of dollars.
Mary Ann Carroll began painting in 1959 when she was 16. Later, when she became a single mother of seven through a divorce, she depended on her art to support her family.
When asked if it bothers her to be called a Highwaymen she answered, "There's men at the end of women, so it's fine."
Mary Ann claims to love to paint dead trees and the density of woods but doesn't like the snakes in them. She also loves to paint water but does not know how to swim.
In 2004 she was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Mary Ann Carroll still paints every day and says, "You must believe in yourself, even if no one else does".
It was a treat to meet Mrs. Carroll. She was friendly and down-to-earth as she signed the three framed Giclee prints The Colonel and I snatched up (literally, the bank lobby was swarming with people grabbing prints, originals and note cards to purchase and have signed). Mrs. Carroll had an army of her children and their spouses manning the sales activity as she signed paintings and prints.
The three pictures used in this post are the framed prints we purchased. We will loan one of them to our little African-American museum for display (just can't decide which one yet).