Highwaymen Artist R.L. Lewis At Central Brevard Library
By Space Coast Daily // September 17, 2013
featuring live painting demonstration
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Highwaymen Artist Spotlight.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Robert “R.L.” Lewis will offer a firsthand account of his life as a Florida Highwayman artist and provide a live painting demonstration during “From the Inside Looking Out,” at the Central Brevard Library in Cocoa on Thursday, September 26 at 6:30 PM.
The event chronicles a noteworthy period in American art history from the mid 1950’s through the 1980’s, during which largely self-taught, itinerant African-American landscape artists sold their paintings door-to-door up and down Florida’s east coast. Collectively, they became known as “The Highwaymen.”
Highwaymen artist and long-time Brevard County art educator R.L. Lewis was inducted in the Florida Artist Hall of Fame in 2004. The public is invited to meet Lewis at the free event at the Central Brevard Public Library, located at 308 Forrest Avenue in Cocoa, 32922.
For more information, call 321-633-1792.
Director of Brevard County Public Libraries, Jeff Thompson is pleased to present a program that not only celebrates the Florida Highwaymen tradition, but includes one of the 26 known Highwaymen artists.
“Highwaymen art represents one of the great contributions of Florida to the art world,” said Thompson.
“Formerly derided or dismissed as couch paintings, many of these works capture the remarkable landscape of East Central Florida in a completely unique and effective way.”
SELF TAUGHT, SELF MENTORING
The Highwaymen, also referred to as the Florida Highwaymen, are a group of 26 African-American landscape artists in Florida. Self-taught and self-mentoring, they created a body of work of over 200,000 paintings, despite facing many racial and cultural barriers.
Mostly from the Fort Pierce area, they painted landscapes and made a living selling them door-to-door to businesses and individuals throughout Florida from the mid-1950s through the 1980s.
For over 50 years The Highwaymen created large numbers of relatively inexpensive landscape paintings using construction materials rather than traditional art supplies. As no galleries would accept their work, they sold them in towns and cities and along roadsides throughout Florida, often still wet, out of the trunks of their cars. They have been called “The Last Great American Art Movement of the 20th century.”
They also peddled their work from the trunks of their cars along the eastern coastal roads (A1A and US 1).
For over 50 years The Highwaymen created large numbers of relatively inexpensive landscape paintings using construction materials rather than traditional art supplies. As no galleries would accept their work, they sold them in towns and cities and along roadsides throughout Florida, often still wet, out of the trunks of their cars. They have been called “The Last Great American Art Movement of the 20th century.
ABOUT HIGHWAYMEN ARTIST R.L. LEWIS
Robert L. Lewis is one of the quietly creative and versatile figures of a Florida Landscape Artist tradition collectively known as “The Highwaymen.”
He was inducted in the Florida Artist Hall of Fame in 2004 and is also a retired art teacher of 32 years in the Brevard County School System. “R.L.” Lewis was born in Cocoa, Florida, the third of six siblings.
His mother encouraged him to sketch and draw. In 1958, a sports injury during his junior year at historically black Monroe High School forced him to be assigned to art class. His art teacher, Ms. Leisure, was very supportive and helped him to develop his artistic talents.
He drew large crowds of students in art class with his artistic drawings and sketches. While in high school, R.L. drew true inspiration from reading an article about the great Florida landscape artist Harold Newton.
He attended Edward Water College in Jacksonville, Florida, Syracuse University in New York and finally at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida before graduating in 1966 with a B.A. Degree in Art Education. R.L. worked as an illustrator for Boeing upon graduation.
While he worked in sculpture early in his artistic career, he discovered his artistic forte in Florida landscapes, capturing dramatic natural scenes from Florida’s coast and interior.
He began to actively sell his art starting in 1967 in Brevard and throughout Central Florida, Northeast Florida and parts of the Florida Panhandle. R.L. Lewis taught Art Education in Brevard County for 32 years and worked from the late 1970’s to the early 1990’s as a part-time Art Adult Education instructor at Brevard Community College.
RECENT CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
• National Endowment of the Arts Grant Recipient – Preserving the Highwaymen Tradition, 2003 – 2005
• Special Exhibition of Interest, Cummer Museum – African American Masters
• A Florida Original: RL Lewis and the Highwaymen Tradition, 2003 – 2004, as part of the Smithsonian Institute Exhibition
• Florida Artist Hall of Fame Inductee, 2004
• Halifax Art Festival, 2008 – 2009
• Disney World – House of Blues Folk Festival, 2008 – 2009
• Cedar Key Art Festival voted Best of Show, 2010
ABOUT THE CENTRAL BREVARD LIBRARY
The Central Brevard Library and Reference Center has served the citizens of Brevard County for over 20 years. The library has almost 200,000 items (including books, CDs, and DVDs) available for free check-out, as well as free computer and internet access.
The Library is open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 9 a.m. -8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 1 – 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
Call 321-633-1792 or visit MyLibraryWorld.com for more information.