Richard Mayhew: Inner Terrain

Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

A rare and timely exhibition of the artwork of Richard Mayhew (b. 1924), featuring two dozen paintings that speak to American arts, culture, and history. Mayhew’s African American, Shinnecock, and Cherokee-Lumbee ancestries inform his dreamlike landscapes, which are saturated in vibrant colors, including shades of red and burnt earth pigments that suggest, as the artist has said, “blood in the soil.”

In 1963, Mayhew had already embarked on a continuous search for an imaginative mindset when he joined Spiral, a think-tank of Black artists in New York City that became  instrumental for its opportunities to exchange ideas and develop networks, though its gatherings only lasted from 1963 to 1966. Mayhew’s early engagement in Spiral came to symbolize for him a starting point for a creative continuum that flows outward perpetually, embracing all directions while also moving forward.

Mayhew studied in Italy and taught at the Brooklyn Museum, the Art Students League, Smith College, San Jose State University, and Pennsylvania State University, where he retired as professor emeritus in 1991. As he approaches his centennial birthday, he remains an active painter developing an inventive mind and continuing to improvise his techniques.

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May 4, 2023