Oct 10, 2009-Mar 07, 2010

The Art of Richard Mayhew

A complete retrospective exhibition for Richard Mayhew, a nationally recognized, Aptos-based painter.

The exhibition features Mayhew’s paintings from the late 1950’s through the 1970’s, consisting primarily of landscape with some figurative works as well. In 1957, Mayhew enjoyed his first solo exhibition as an academically trained artist and announced his unique style of presenting the natural milieu to the New York art world. During the tumultuous period of social and cultural transformation of the 1960s, Mayhew worked as an artist and an activist most notably as a founding member of Spiral, the legendary group of Black artists including Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, and Hale Woodruff, organized in 1963 to address issues of civil rights and racial equality through their art. Through the 1960s and 1970s, Mayhew establishes his career as an artist tirelessly working with a sense of spiritual depth and freedom of color, form, and space.

The Art of Richard Mayhew explores the personal and professional foundations of Mayhew’s style as a young man of African and Native American descent coming of age in New York during the 1950s explosion of Abstract Expressionist art. It gathers together the best of Mayhew’s paintings that combine his unique style, philosophy for painting, and synthesis of artistic and social influences that set the trajectory of his artistic career.

The exhibition catalogue features four critical essays — by art historian and scholar Lizzetta LeFalle-Collins; the exhibition’s curator, Bridget R. Cooks; artist and educator Nashormeh Lindo and, art advisor and author Halima Taha — discuss his beginnings as a painter, his early body of work in New York during the height of Abstract Expressionism, his activist role in a community of African American artists, and the spiritual and philosophical inspiration for his signature “moodscape” paintings. This catalogue offers information and images that have never before been publicly available, plus an extensive career chronology and a bibliography. It is an invaluable resource both for admirers of Mayhew’s work and those who are discovering his work for the first time.

The Museum of the African Diaspora would like to first thank Guest Curator, Bridget R. Cooks, Ph.D., and Richard Mayhew, Ina Mayhew, Stan and Marguerite Lathan, Dr. Edward Littlejohn, Lucy Castellanos, Dr. Alphonso and Brenda Belsito, The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Newark Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Ball State University, National Academy of Design, and Whitney Museum of American Art for loaning work to the exhibition.

Mayhew was a founding member of Spiral, a collective of African-American artists that exhibited together one time only, in 1965.