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Richard Mayhew lectures at the University of Connecticut

 Digital Record


  • 1970 - 1972


Landscape painter Richard Mayhew delivered 3 lectures that can be found on 4 reels. Mayhew spoke on 5/6/1970 (2015-0002/RR64), 5/9/1972 (2015-0002/RR65 reel 1), (2015-0002/RR66 reel 2), and lastly on 2/24/1971 2015-0002/RR317). Mayhew was a member of Spiral, a black painters group that formed in 1960s New York City.

Biographical / Historical

Richard Mayhew is an Afro-Native American landscape painter, illustrator, and arts educator. His abstract, brightly colored landscapes are informed by his experiences as an African American/Native American and his interest in Jazz and the performing arts. Richard Mayhew was born on April 3, 1924, in Amityville, New York, to Native American and African American parents. His father Alvin Mayhew, was of African American and Shinnecock tribe descent and his mother, Lillian Goldman Mayhew was of African American and Cherokee-Lumbee descent. His mother would take him to New York City to see paintings, and he was inspired at a young age by George Inness paintings. As a teenager he studied with medical illustrator James Willson.

He had been in the United States Marines with the Montford Point Marines, rising to the rank of first sergeant during World War II. However in a 2019 interview, Mayhew expressed he did not identify with his time in military service and it inspired his interest in interdisciplinary studies.

Mayhew studied at the Art Students League of New York and with artist Edwin Dickinson. Later attending Brooklyn Museum Art School in 1948 to 1959, and studying with Reuben Tam. He also took some courses at Columbia University. He worked as a china decorator in the late 1940s in New York, where he met his first wife Dorothy Zuccarini. He was a Jazz singer in the 1950s, performing in small clubs in New York City and in the Borscht Belt in the Catskill Mountains. In 1955 he had his first solo exhibition in Brooklyn, and he ended his singing work.

In 1958, he won the John Hay Whitney Fellowship and took his family with him to Europe. In the 1960s, Mayhew illustrated children's books.

He was a founding member of Spiral, a black painters' group in the 1960s in New York that included Romare Bearden, Charles Alston, Charles White, Felrath Hines, Norman Lewis, Emma Amos, Reginald Gammon, and Hale Woodruff as members. The Spiral collective formed in 1963, after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, as a way for artists to discuss their experiences in the Civil Rights movement. He was also a member of the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition.

For 14 years he taught at Pennsylvania State University, starting in 1977 and retiring in 1991. He taught art and/or interdisciplinary thinking at other schools around the United States, including Brooklyn Museum Art School (1963), 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. He was introduced to interdisciplinary learning during his time teaching at Pratt which at the time offered different disciplines alongside art studio, and he was working alongside other instructors such as Eleanor Holmes Norton (teaching sociology), Jacob Lawrence, and William A.J. Payne (teaching anthropology). Students of Mayhew include Beverly McIver, Rodney Allen Trice, among others.

In 2000, Mayhew moved to Soquel in Santa Cruz County, California.[6]

A solo retrospective exhibition of Mayhew's work took place in 2009 in New York City at ZONE: Contemporary Art at 41 West 57th Street[16] The exhibition traveled to three additional venues.

Mayhew's work is featured in various permanent collections including: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), De Young (museum), Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Smithsonian Institution, among others.



4 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recordings) : RR 64 1 reel, Side A-1:11:42, Side B-0:15:51; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 65 1 reel, 1:04:17; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 66 1 reel, 0:05:31; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. RR 317 1 reel, 0:44:14; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original audio recordings reside in the University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
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Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US