Highwayman artist Charles Walker and his wife, artist Gertrude Walker,
recently opened a gallery in the Renaissance on the River in downtown
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yet this is home to the Highwaymen and we should have a
facility where they are recognized for their contributions,”
said Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker, an artist whose
husband, Charles, and brother, Livingston “Castro” Roberts,
were Hall of Fame inductees.
“They are known all over the state, and a center would
bring in tourists and visitors,” she said. “It’s the dream of a
lot of people and I hope it comes to fruition.”
Fort Pierce Mayor Bob Benton couldn’t agree more. “This
has been a long time coming,” he said. “I’m very glad the
community is coming together and embracing the idea of
having our own center here.”
Jon Ward, director of redevelopment for the city of Fort
Pierce, sees creation of a center as a two-pronged effort: a
museum and a gallery/sales center with changing displays.
“This is a very alive and vibrant exercise of stylistically
related painters,” Ward said. “We need to tell an accurate and
complete story of the landscape painters, starting with Harold
Newton and moving into the ‘fast-painting’ era of Alfred
Hair and associates, giving an appropriate reference to those,
such as Bean Backus and Zenobia Jefferson, who helped get
them moving as artists. A gallery and sales center would help
keep the Highwayman ‘brand’ alive and inspire young painters,”
Mary Ann Carroll adds a third dimension. “Teaching art is a
very important part of our history,” she said. “We need a place
for lecturing and demonstrating, where we can teach all ages.”
Lee Drake has a home in mind: the 85-year-old former allblack
Lincoln Park Academy on Means Court. It is no longer
a school, but when it was accredited in 1928 it was one of
only four accredited black high schools in Florida.
Ward said the benefits of having a Highwaymen art and
history center somewhere in the city are twofold.
“It gives residents a sense of place, a value of the quality of
life and the activities that are born here,” he said. “Their story
is also a very positive role model for young painters who can
use the story of the Highwaymen to connect the dots to their
own careers as creative professionals.”
“This should have been done a long time ago,” Carroll said.
“We need to represent the city in a positive light, and help to
put our city on the map.”
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