Works in the Collection
Richard Mayhew was born in 1924 in Amityville, New York. His appreciation for art started at a young age when each summer artists from New York City would come to Amityville to capture and paint the seashore. Mayhew was fascinated by these artists and started experimenting on his own using his father’s paints and brushes. When he was 14, one of the artists asked to see what he could do, which opened the door for Mayhew to join them regularly to paint and receive encouragement. In 1945 Mayhew moved to New York City and became a freelance medical illustrator and was mentored by James Wilson Peale. In 1951 he started taking classes at the Brooklyn Museum of Art where he studied under Hans Hofmann and Max Beckmann. Mayhew also took classes at the Pratt Institute and obtained a degree in art history from Columbia University. Mayhew was an illustrator for children’s books and performed with jazz combos and in the theatre. In 1955 Mayhew had his first solo exhibition at Brooklyn Museum. In 1959 Mayhew received the John Hay Whitney Fellowship, which enabled him to attend the Academia in Florence, Italy. In 1962 Mayhew returned to the States and started teaching courses at the Brooklyn Museum. During this time, the civil rights movement had begun its political challenge against racism and discriminatory policies and Mayhew and fellow African-American artists formed the Spiral Group, an influential group of African American artists that sought to use the arts as a vehicle in the fight for civil rights and racial equality. After a fourteen year professorship, Mayhew retired from Pennsylvania State University and moved to Santa Cruz, CA where he now lives.His work has been exhibited at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, and the de Saisset Museum of Santa Clara as part of a three-part retrospective tracing his career chronologically from the 1950’s onward. His work is featured in the permanent collections of such museums as the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Smithsonian Institution; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the Los Angeles County Museum.