Local Author Gary Monroe has just published another “Highwaymen” book honoring the “First Lady” of the Highwaymen, Mary Anne Carroll. The only female member of this honored group of Florida artists.
At 16 Mary Ann Carroll met Harold Newton, later dubbed the original Highwayman. At 18 she sold her first painting. The year is 1958 and segregation was a way of life in Ft. Pierce, Florida. Imagine a black woman in the deep south selling her paintings where she could not eat, drink, or sit. A tenacious saleswoman, she had seven children, she avoided the partying and drama, offering the public what they wanted – pleasingly framed oil paintings at a reasonable price.
You also get a glimpse of what life was like in Ft. Pierce in the 50′s and 60′s, where the town was literally segregated by a canal, White on one side, Black on the other. The Ft. Pierce of Mary Anne’s youth revolved around Avenue D, the commercial core of the black community. Black businesses flourished there until the riots following Martin Luther King’s death. At that time many of the buildings were burned and, as most of the landlords where white, there was reluctance to rebuild. Subsequently the area fell in to disrepair. Where there was once commerce and safety, there was now prostitution and drugs. Even today, Ft. Pierce has a way to go to honor the community of 26 young black artists that called, or call Ft. Pierce home.
University of Florida Press has done another excellent job in honoring the life and work of Mary Anne Carroll. A must addition to any art library, and of course anyone who was lucky enough to have acquired a “Highwaymen” painting..
Know for her vibrant use of color, Mary Anne paintings capturing the Florida landscape in typical “Highwaymen” fashion, are beautifully illustrated in thes volume.
November 15 is Florida Bookstore Day and Gary will be at the Muse with some of his Highwaymen paintings. At 1:00 PM he will give a talk and sign copies of his books.