Country of Origin: U. S. A.
Artist: JAMES GIBSON (American 1938 - 2017) An Original Highwayman.
Title: "Moonlit River"
Medium: Oil on Upson Board.
Size: Artwork is 7 by 5 inches; framed it is 11 by 9 inches.
Signed: Lower Right.
Condition: Very Good.
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. Original members were James Gibson, Alfred Hair, Harold Newton and Livingston Roberts. The only female member was Mary Ann Carroll. 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.
Thanks to AskArt.
Specifically James Gibson: Among his many awards is the 2005 Florida Ambassador Art Award. His work was displayed in the Florida Supreme Court in 2000 and 2003. His patrons include former Secretary of State Glenda Hood, former Governor Jeb Bush, and former U.S. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. Former Governor Charlie Christ used one of his landscapes on his Christmas card when he was in office. He created an ornament for the White House Christmas tree and several of his paintings have been shown in the White House collection. Two of his brilliant landscapes were featured in Steven Spielberg’s film, Catch Me If You Can. His beach scenes with windblown palm trees were perfectly placed on the wall of a 1960s Florida motel room.
His technique consisted of first creating the background of his landscapes. Then he painted in the dark colors. The brighter colors go on top, making the artwork come alive. His early frames, like those of other Highwaymen, were made from crown molding. He later started purchasing frames that weren’t selling. Later, he purchased a variety of frames that he liked. James selected simple frames that wouldn’t detract from his paintings. He liked to visualize the frame and the painting working together.
His larger paintings are selling for thousands of dollars. I have tried to present some smaller Highwaymen paintings that are still affordable but very high artistic quality. This particular painting really appealed to me. There is symbolism in the gnarled tree that looks over the beautiful moonlit river. When I look at it I see the integrity of nature giving this leafless tree beauty of its own.
Original Highwaymen JAMES GIBSON (American 1938 - 2017) - Original Signed Oil on Board "Moonlit River"