Conservation Foundation to host Florida Highwaymen for one-night-only art event on Feb. 22

Artwork to be available for purchase, with part of proceeds going to Foundation

On the evening of Feb. 22, the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast will host a collective of the Florida Highwaymen for a special one-night-only exhibition of the group’s “legendary art,” the nonprofit has announced. The event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. that Wednesday in the Foundation’s Burrows-Matson House headquarters at Bay Preserve in Osprey, a news release says. The address is 400 Palmetto Ave.

Artwork will be available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Conservation Foundation, the release notes.

“We are truly delighted to welcome these men and showcase their art,” said Christine P. Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation, in the release. “Beyond highlighting stunning natural landscapes like those we protect, the Florida Highwaymen are an integral part of Florida’s cultural history. It is an honor to host them for this special event,” she added in the release.

From the early 1950s through the 1980s, 26 African-American artists — now known as the Florida Highwaymen — “used vivid and bright colors to paint scenes of beautiful, untouched Florida,” the release explains. “Excluded from showing their work in galleries or museums” in Jim Crow-era Florida, they piled their paintings into the trunks of their cars and sold them along U.S. Highway 1, thus earning the name “Highwaymen,” the release adds. Today, their paintings are highly collectible “and widely sought after,” the release notes.

Three of the original 26 artists – Curtis Arnett, Al Black, and Robert L. Lewis – along with one second-generation Highwayman – Roy McLendon Jr. – will be in attendance on Feb. 22.

Registration for the reception is required, the release points out. To RSVP, visit the Conservation Foundation online at or call 941-918-2100. To learn more about the individual artists or the Highwaymen as a whole, visit

The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast “protects land and water in Southwest Florida for the benefit of people and nature,” the release explains. A nationally accredited land trust, the Foundation “purchases natural areas, holds voluntary land protection agreements,” and provides education about responsible land and water stewardship in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, the release adds. To learn more, visit