This large and impressive painting by Original Florida Highwayman "Chico" Wheeler, (American 1946-2019), was a commissioned piece. As such, Chico was so overwhelmed to have reached what he considered the pinnacle - having his works commissioned - that he lovingly and intensely put everything he had into this masterpiece. The certified authority, Paul Barratini, who knew Chico and many of the other Highwaymen personally, related this background to me. He feels this is the best work that Chico did in his lifetime. We have ordered a formal COA from Paul, which is included with this sale. When we receive it, we will photograph it and add to the listing. Chico painted a lot of "bread and butter" paintings that were not his best quality. For this reason, for a long time his work did not appreciate as quickly as other Florida Highwaymen. Recently his prices have been rising to similar prices, due to the number of better pieces coming to market. Look through the Chico Wheeler paintings I have listed,and you will see the difference. I am offering some of his interior scenes. Most of the Highwaymen concentrated on landscapes. But Chico occasionally would paint an interior scene, sometimes a self-portrait. (The other Florida Highwayman who would paint something "different" was Sylvester Wells, albeit very rarely. We have the Wells father-daughter self portrait in chains, perhaps to remind himself that he is a lucky man to live in post-slavery times. ) Charles "Chico" Wheeler was a very private person who likes to keep the details of his life to himself.
We know that Charles began his painting career by making frames for Alfred Hair. He started painting sometime in the mid to late 1960s. Like most of the other Highwaymen, he took to the roadways to sell his work. He supplemented his income from painting by working in the Fort Pierce and Vero citrus groves. In the early days, he would paint with Livingston after a full day of work.
Inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 2004 as one of the Original Florida Highwaymen.
Who were the Highwaymen? A group of young African-American landscape and skyscape painters, these artists painted their way out of the despair awaiting them as workers in Florida citrus groves and packing houses of the 1950s. Their major influence was Albert Backus (1906-1991), a white man often referred to as the Dean of Florida painters who had a fanciful formula involving huge cumulus clouds billowing over the ocean. The Highwaymen created hybrid versions of his style, and their work is sometimes characterized as motel art. Typically they painted on inexpensive materials such as Upson board, a roofer's material, and they sold their work out of the trunks of their cars. With paintings still wet, they loaded their vehicles and traveled the state's east coast, selling them door-to-door and store-to-store, in restaurants, offices, courthouses, and bank lobbies. In succeeding decades, however, Highwaymen paintings were consigned to attics and garage sales. Their work has been rediscovered in the mid 1990's, and today is recognized as the work of American folk artists.
ARTIST: Charles "Chico" Wheeler (American b. 1946 - 2019)
Medium: Oil on Masonite.
Size: Sight 24 by 48 inches; Framed 27 by 52 inches. The frame is quite lovely in its own right, having scalloped edges.
Signed: Lower Right.
Condition: Very Good.
Authentication: ALL of our Highwaymen paintings have been authenticated by the recognized authority on Highwaymen paintings, Mr.Paul Barratini. COAs from Mr. Barratini shall be included. They are currently on order.
***Please note that the physical colors of this item may vary from the pictures in the listing, given the quality of the camera, the lighting and the background used.
All our items are available on layaway with NO Interest Charges!
Charles (Chico) Wheeler (1946-2019), Original Florida Highwaymen