Richard Mayhew: Reinventing Landscape opens at the Heckscher Museum

Nationally Renowned Artist, Born on Long Island, Celebrated Close to Home

From January 20 to April 24, the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington will present the work of artist Richard Mayhew (b. 1924) in a solo exhibition, the first ever held so close to Amityville, where the renowned artist grew up. .

Title Richard Mayhew: reinventing the landscape, the exhibition will highlight more than two dozen vibrant paintings and works on paper created by the artist over the past six decades and explore how Mayhew reinvented 19th- and 20th-century American landscape painting through a unique personal style that expresses his perspectives on African Americans. and Native American history and culture.

“Pescadero”, 2014, oil on canvas by Richard Mayhew; (Courtesy of ACA Galleries, New York)

The exhibit is drawn from private collections and institutions such as the Hudson River Museum, the National Academy of Design, and the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art.

Coinciding with the exhibition, the Heckscher Museum announces the acquisition of one of Mayhew’s vivid paintings, Pescadero, 2014. The Museum already holds a number of Mayhew’s lithographs.

“The purchase of Richard Mayhew’s Pescadero is an important stepping stone into the Museum’s second century,” said curator Karli Wurzelbacher. “We are honored to have the opportunity to share the amazing and thoughtful work of this major artist with our audience, now and in the decades to come. Mayhew’s work will allow us to tell a more complete and compelling story about the stories of abstraction and landscape painting in America.

Richard Mayhew’s paintings express his African American and Native American heritage. “It’s a double commitment to nature. The land is very important to both cultures, in terms of stimulation and spiritual sensitivity, and it is very important to me,” he said. The Heckscher Museum, located less than 15 miles from the artist’s birthplace, will introduce Mayhew’s art to residents of Long Island and the greater New York metropolitan area within the context of Long Island’s diverse cultural history. Island.

Wurzelbacher notes that the artist’s subjects may suggest the appearance of natural forms, but they are only symbolic of his emotional interpretation. He conceives his painting as “mental landscapes”. Mayhew intuitively uses evocative colors and diffuse shapes to explore, in his words, “desire, ambition, love, hate, fear – this is my painting”.

Although Mayhew has resided in other parts of the country (currently in Santa Cruz, California), her birthplace remains central to her work. Here his love of nature and his artistic talents were first stimulated. He drew from the Long Island landscape a lifelong response to the spiritual essences of nature and immersed himself in the complex emotions that permeate his canvases.

Richard Mayhew grew up in Amityville, on the south shore of Long Island. It is one of the oldest black-native communities on Long Island.

During the 1930s and 1940s, artists would visit the area in the summer to paint outdoors along the ocean coast, and the young Mayhew watched them: “I was fascinated by artists who dipped their brushes in paint like a magic wand ; the beautiful images that came out at the end were amazing.

After his military service in the South Pacific, Mayhew worked as an illustrator, ceramic painter and jazz singer. In 1951, he began classes at the Brooklyn Museum School of Art. A degree in art history from Columbia University added to his artistic frame of reference. Studies in Europe fostered a deeper appreciation of the Old Masters and the Impressionists’ mastery of light.

Mayhew’s first solo exhibition was organized by the Brooklyn Museum. During the civil rights movement, he joined Spiral, formed in 1963 by a group of black artists who came together to discuss the relationship between black identity, American culture, and politics. These debates reinforced his commitment to working in an abstract style while addressing the concepts of race and social justice.

Associated program:

Panel on Environmental Justice on Long Island, April 5 at 5:30 p.m.

A virtual panel discussion with Jeremy Dennis, contemporary fine art photographer, tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation and founder of Ma’s House, and Dr. Mark Chambers, Professor of African Studies at Stony Brook University. The panel will discuss Mayhew’s work and the intersections of environmentalism and racial justice on Long Island. Organized by Justyce Bennett, MA, Curatorial Assistant, The Heckscher Museum of Art.


The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Ave., Huntington. In addition to Richard Mayhew: reinventing the landscape, the museum presents Moonstruck: Lunar Art from the Collection from Jan. 20 to Sept. 18. For more information, call 631-380-3230 or visit

Comments are closed.