Richard Mayhew paintings exhibition

The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art (SVMA) presents Richard Mayhew: Inner Terrain, 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.”

Mayhew was recently featured in a New York Times article that also mentioned SVMA’s upcoming exhibition.

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.

“I met Richard Mayhew when I was beginning my artistic journey, and his mentorship and guidance were instrumental,” Co-Curator Kajahl said. “He suggested that I study abroad and that I move to New York City, both of which opened up my artistic opportunities. Richard also challenged me to push the boundaries of traditional art forms, and to do so by exploring and trusting my creative inner sensibility.”

Exhibition Reception: Saturday, September 23, 2023
5-7:00 p.m. – Members and General Public
Event is free for SVMA members, and $10 for non-members.

Pre-registration is required to attend this event. Registration closes on Sept 22 at 5:00 p.m.

Inner Terrain Curators’ Talk

Sunday, September 24 at 2 p.m.

$10 SVMA Members | $12 non-members

Join the co-curators of Richard Mayhew: Inner Terrain, Shelby Graham and Kajahl along with artist Richard Mayhew for a discussion about the exhibition and his creative practice.

About Richard Mayhew

Richard Mayhew photographed by Shelby Graham, May 2023
Richard Mayhew photographed by Shelby Graham, May 2023

Richard Mayhew is a highly acclaimed artist whose work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States. Born in Amityville, New York, in 1924, Mayhew went on to study at the Art Students League, Columbia University, and the Brooklyn Museum Art School.

Mayhew’s paintings are known for their rich, vibrant colors and their ability to capture the beauty and essence of the natural world. He is particularly known for his depictions of the American landscape, which often incorporate elements of the abstract and the surreal.

Mayhew’s work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including shows at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to his career as a painter, Mayhew has also been a dedicated teacher and mentor to generations of young artists.

In addition to Penn State he has taught at a number of institutions, including the Pratt Institute (1963), Art Students League of New York (1965), Smith College (1969), Hunter College (1971), California State University, East Bay (1974), San Jose State University (1975), Sonoma State University (1976), University of California, Santa Cruz (1992), and others.

About the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art

The Sonoma Valley Museum of Art is located at 551 Broadway, one half block up from Sonoma’s historic Plaza. Current Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

General admission is $10, free for SVMA members and 18 and under; additional information is available at or by calling 707.939.SVMA. Wednesday is always free.

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