The University Galleries at FAU will present a series of public lecture programs in association with the landmark exhibition “A.E. Backus and Florida’s Highwaymen: History, Commerce & Art” from Thursday, Nov. 3 through Thursday, Nov. 17. Both the lecture series and the exhibition are presented in the Ritter Art Gallery, located adjacent to the Wimberly Library at 777 Glades Road on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.
The exhibition, which is open Tuesday through Saturday afternoons, remains on view through Saturday, November 19. The exhibition brings to the public new scholarly insights into the work of Florida’s preeminent landscape painter, A.E. “Bean” Backus, and the Highwaymen, a group of 26 African-American artists influenced to varying degrees by Backus. Both the exhibition and the lectures are free and open to the public.
On Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. a panel discussion will take place beginning with an introduction on the history of Florida landscape painting by Mallory O’Connor, Professor Emerita of Art History, Santa Fe State College, Gainesville. O’Connor has developed and curated numerous Florida art and history exhibitions. Following her introduction, the panel will include visual artists Onajide Shabaka, Ft. Lauderdale-based multimedia artist, documentary photographer and curator of numerous exhibitions; Adler Guerrier, Miami-based and widely exhibited multimedia artist; and Khaulah Nuruddin, visual artist and current Museum Education Coordinator at FAU’s University Galleries.
On Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m, Michael D. Harris, Associate Professor of Art History, Dept. of African American Studies, Emory University will present “Race and Visual Representation vis-à-vis the Highwaymen.” Harris is an expert on race and visual representation and has curated many exhibitions of leading contemporary African-American artists.
Finally, on Thursday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m., Natasha Kuzmanovic will present “A.E. Backus: Style and Patronage.” Kuzmanovic is an art historian and conservator whose book, “Tropical Light: The Art of A.E. Backus,” is scheduled to be released in November 2016.
The A.E. Backus and Florida’s Highwaymen exhibition consists of 68 paintings including a selection of original Backus works owned by FAU and a number of Backus and Highwaymen paintings borrowed from regional private collectors. Didactic wall texts, accompanied by historical photographs and artifacts, provide viewers with the contexts for comparing the styles and themes of the paintings and for understanding how the Highwaymen emerged and commercially produced their unprecedented works of art. Specifically, the exhibition addresses Backus’ relation to these young artists during Jim Crow Florida in the 50s and 60s; Backus’ own place in the history of Florida landscape painting; commerce and art; illusions and perceptions of the Florida landscape; and the contribution of these landscape paintings to the Florida Dream.
The University Galleries’ Ritter Art Gallery at FAU is open Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. Visitors must obtain a $2 parking pass or use the limited metered parking before visiting the gallery. More extensive parking directions are available online at www.fau.edu/galleries. The University Galleries operate an active Museum Education Program that is approved as a Field Experience Provider by the School District of Palm Beach County. Class and other group tours can be arranged during and outside of open hours by appointment. For more information, visit www.fau.edu/galleries or call 561- 297-2661.