Profile: Richard Mayhew (1924-)

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. He lives and works in Soquel and Santa Cruz, California.


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 rank first sergeant and he gained a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in 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.

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.

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