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Catalog Data

Created by:
James Gibson, American, 1938 - 2017  Search this
oil paint on fiberboard
H x W x D (framed): 26 × 16 × 2 in. (66 × 40.6 × 5.1 cm)
oil paintings
Place made:
Fort Pierce, Saint Lucie County, Florida, United States, North and Central America
ca. 1965
James Gibson was a member of the Florida Highwaymen, a group of self-taught artists who worked in Florida starting in the 1950s. The Highwaymen leveraged their entrepreneurial spirit to create an independent artistic tradition during the era of segregation. The group was made up of twenty-five men and one woman. Their art provided an alternative livelihood to the regional agricultural and factory work. Gibson took up painting after seeing the work of another Highwaymen, Alfred Hair. Gibson also worked for A.E. “Bean” Backus, Hair’s mentor, making frames.
The group created a great quantity of work, often dozens of paintings per day, which would be sold inexpensively. The paintings depict Florida landscapes and are renowned for their vibrant colors and serene scenes. Like other Highwaymen, Gibson sold his paintings door to door and out of his car along roadways. This practice led Jim Finch, a Sebring Florida gallery owner, to name the group the “Highwaymen” in a 1995 essay, prompting a renewed public interest. In 2004, they were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Gibson received the 2005 Florida Ambassador Art Award.
Fort Pierce and the Florida Humanities Council. “The Highwaymen Trail.” 2012.
Oil painting of a moonlit river. The painting (a) shows a full moon in the center of a grey sky. The moon is partially obscured from the left by dark tree branches with hanging Spanish moss. The moon is reflected on the water in shades of white and blue blended with grey-toned water. There are five (5) white birds in flight pictured in the distance. In the foreground, there is vegetation with a fallen branch in the center. The painting is signed in the bottom right. There is a maker’s mark on the reverse.
The wooden frame (b) is made from repurposed construction materials. The frame is painted blue-grey. Along the top edge gold-colored paint has been added on top of the base layer. The reverse of the frame has paint splatter. The painting is secured to the frame under protruding nails and covered with masking tape. A piece of white string is stapled on each side and strung across the upper back. The frame is nailed together at the corners.
African American  Search this
American South  Search this
Art  Search this
Nature  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Robert and Flory Kahn in memory of Wolf and Tybe Kahn
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Unknown - Restrictions Possible
Rights assessment and proper usage is the responsibility of the user.
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Visual Arts
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture