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Florida Highwaymen Paintings on Display at City Hall



The Florida Highwaymen have arrived!

The City of Apopka is hosting a new art display with paintings from Florida Highwaymen member Robert Butler and his three daughters.

The collection features original paintings and reproductions from Butler – one of 26 African-American artists widely respected for their landscapes of Florida – as well as works from daughters Dorene, Aletha and Angela. The art is on display throughout February at Apopka City Hall, 120 E. Main St.

Robert Butler, who died in 2014 at the age of 70, worked at a hospital and started painting professionally in 1963. He initially drove around the state, selling each of his paintings for $15 to hunters and fishermen. He taught himself to paint in oils and acrylics.

He – like other Highwaymen - focused on nature scenes from around Florida. His paintings gained popularity and eventually sold for thousands. Sales helped Butler to support his family of nine children – nearly all who learned painting from him and continued to paint as adults. Several of the them became professional artists.

unnamed-15Dorene Butler-Bennett, who coordinated the art display in Apopka, fondly remembers how her father shared painting techniques yet encouraged his family to follow their own direction with art subjects. The father’s influence is significant in the next generation’s painting styles.

Two of his six sons began selling their own artwork by the age of 15. Dorene, who teaches art and paints professionally, said she has explored abstract painting yet she often follows her father’s fondness for nature settings in Florida.

“It feels like a responsibility – if I didn’t do it, I would be missing something,” she explained.

Dorene, 49, from Orlando, was just as influenced by her siblings: “When I got older, I started feeling the peer pressure. Just being around all of my brothers and sisters and seeing their different styles of painting made me improve my own style and find a style that belongs to me.”

She travels a lot for her artwork. She hopes to make a 66-day trip around Florida reminiscent of her father’s travelling days. She operates an online gallery (www.butlersartenterprise.com) and wants to open a gallery in Winter Park someday.

Doreen Butler-Bennett, Florida Highwaymen, Robert Butler, The City of Apopka


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