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Richard Mayhew

August 6 - October 15, 2022

Opening: Saturday, August 6th, 4:00 - 5:00 pm

South Etna Montauk Foundation


6 South Etna Avenue
Montauk, NY 11954

(Montauk, NY) – (Montauk, NY) – Beginning August 6th, South Etna Montauk Foundation will devote its gallery space to an exhibition of work by ninety-eight-year-old artist Richard Mayhew. Mayhew is best known for paintings that use dazzling, saturated color to render vast landscapes. The exhibition will comprise examples that span the range of his career, from the early 1960s to 2019. The presentation, which follows a recent retrospective of Mayhew’s work at the Heckscher Museum of Art, represents a kind of homecoming for the artist, who was born in Amityville on Long Island, in 1924. Organized in close collaboration with ACA Galleries, the exhibition will be on view through October 15, 2022.


Richard Mayhew roots all of his paintings in emotion: “I use landscape image as a metaphor for the feeling of time and illusion.” In Mayhew’s work, emotion is no small concept; its breadth includes colonialism, racism, humans’ relationship to the earth, and our connection to history.


In the early 1960s, Mayhew joined Spiral, a Black artists’ collective based in New York, formed to consider their relationship to both the civil rights movement and American art. Along with fellow artists—Charles Alston, Emma Amos, Romare Bearden, Calvin Douglass, Perry Ferguson, Reginald Gammon, Felrath Hines, Alvin Hollingsworth, Norman Lewis, Earl Miller, William Majors, Merton D. Simpson, Hale Woodruff and James Yeargans­—Mayhew fought for civil rights and debated art’s position within wider society. At the same time, Mayhew explored his Native American heritage—Mayhew is of Shinnecock and Cherokee-Lumbee descent—and considered how colonizers continue to erase Native Americans from depictions of landscapes. He cited his African-American and Native American heritage as the inspiration for his focus on nature, saying, “[Black and Native American people’s] blood is in the soil of the United States.” Within a Mayhew painting, each color conveys emotion, and he intentionally directs the viewer through his landscape using both color and form. He expertly manipulates the viewer’s eye, causing us to question each element’s significance: what—or who—is missing? What protrudes and what recedes? How does Mayhew’s landscape differ from the colonialist landscapes—such as those by the Hudson River School—which eliminate the presence of people of color?


Mayhew’s signature style is at once abstract and mimetic. His colors are rich and nuanced, his objects seen through a scrim. The literal inversion of color gestures to his interrogation of the idyllic, untouched, expansive landscapes to which we have grown accustomed. In contrast to many of his peers, Mayhew’s art is political but not narrative. Rather, it uses spirituality and the environment to question America’s treatment of Black and Native people.


Now, at South Etna, Mayhew presents an array of works in several media—oils, watercolors, pen and ink, silkscreen, graphite, and etchings—and remains true to his style. Even within the same medium, though, no two works are alike: in the watercolor Spring #2, bubbles and brushstrokes provide swaths of landscape with detail; Mendocino Series #3 is smooth and uniform, with each color blending hazily into the next. Although a group of earlier works on paper inch closer to Realism and further from Expressionism, their black and white worlds nonetheless elicit emotion. The drawings’ negative spaces are not truly empty, and the positive spaces hide themselves in shadow. Just as the paintings provoke interrogation of their subject matter, so do the drawings. Mayhew’s work celebrates nature while remembering the pain tied to the land, and the collection featured at South Etna explores environments which range from grassy fields to the ocean. Mayhew’s extensive travels imbue each piece, connecting his work to his heritage, activism, and a lifetime of experience; Mayhew asks the viewer to appreciate, and examine, the horizon before them.



Richard Mayhew was born in 1924 in Amityville, New York. Mayhew studied at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art, Pratt Institute, and Columbia University. Mayhew’s work has been the subject of numerous solo presentations, including recent exhibitions at the Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington; SFMOMA, San Francisco; ACA Galleries, New York; Ringling College Galleries, Sarasota; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; The Museum of Art & History @ the McPherson Center, Santa Cruz; and the de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara. His work features frequently in group exhibitions both stateside and abroad, including recent presentations at the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. Mayhew’s work is held in the permanent collections of many public institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; the Hudson River Museum, Yonkers; the RISD Museum, Providence; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.



Established in 2021 by Amalia Dayan and Adam Lindemann, South Etna Montauk Foundation brings contemporary artists to Montauk to present their work in a storied American place that has served as home and source of inspiration to artists across generations. In addition hosting public exhibitions in its gallery space in the Village of Montauk, this non-profit organization offers East End residencies to artists.


Andrea Schwan

Andrea Schwan, Inc.

+1 (917) 371-5023

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