Created by
Wheeler, Charles "Chico", American, born 1946
ca. 2010
oil paint on Masonite (TM)
H x W x D (framed): 15 1/2 × 19 1/2 × 2 in. (39.4 × 49.5 × 5.1 cm)
Chico Wheeler 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. Wheeler also worked in citrus groves for supplemental income. He began painting in the 1960s after starting out as a frame maker for another Highwaymen, Alfred Hair.
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, Wheeler sold his paintings 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.
Fort Pierce and the Florida Humanities Council. “The Highwaymen Trail.” 2012.
Oil painting of a Florida landscape during sunrise. The painting (a) shows a marshland scene. There are white egrets or cranes in the water, one with lifted wings in the foreground and others in flight. There is a palm tree in the low marsh water on the left. There is a small island with trees on the right of the image. Vegetation, including palm trees, is also visible along the shoreline. The sky is shown in shades of blue and pink and is reflected on the water. The painting is signed in the bottom left. The reverse of the board has numerical inscriptions and paint splatter.
The wooden frame (b) is brown in color and made from repurposed construction materials. The frame has gold-colored paint with a textured band near the image. The reverse of the frame has brown tape along each edge. A metal wire anchored with a screw eye on each side is strung across the upper back. The painting is secured to the frame under protruding nails. The reverse of the frame has numerical inscriptions.
Place made
Fort Pierce, Saint Lucie County, Florida, United States, North and Central America
Visual Arts
oil paintings
American South
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

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