Black painters were blocked from galleries, so they sold from car trunks in the 1960s. Al Black was among them.
Several black painters who were blocked from galleries in the 1960s and were forced to sell their work from trunks of cars are coming to Bunnell for an art show June 20.
The Highwaymen have gained fame since those days, as 26 were inducted into the Artists Hall of Fame in 2004. Among the inductees was Al Black, who, through a connection with a Bunnell city commissioner, will be at the June 20 event, along with three or four others.
Black met Commissioner Bill Baxley in the late 1990s while Black was serving 12 years in the state prison system (for fraud, according to an Associated Press story). Baxley was a sergeant at the Tomoka Correctional Institution at the time, and he bought some of Black’s paintings that he completed in prison. Black also painted murals at other prisons.
Black said, during an interview on WNZF’s “Free For All Friday” on June 19, that he didn’t start out as a painter; he was originally a salesman only for the Highwaymen, in the 1960s. He traveled U.S. 1 in Florida from Key West north, and then to Georgia and other states to sell paintings for about $25 each.
“They were giving me stuff, freshly painted,” Black said. The wet paint sometimes got “mixed up, so I would have to fix them. I would watch the guys and fix them.”
Since then, Black has become a painter himself and will be painting and selling at the June 20 show in Bunnell. There will also be live music, and artist J.J. Graham, founder of the Salvo Art Project, will also be there, according to Bunnell City Manager Alvin Jackson.
Some of Black's paintings sell for $1,000 or more. But, he said, “I make deals. I don’t keep no paintings. All my paintings — they sell.”
Most of the Highwaymen paintings are of Florida landscapes.