Richard Mayhew (b. 1924) West, 1965 Oil on canvas 54 × 46 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; gift of David L. Schneider, Ph.D., New York 1986.11.2
Soft and shifting, Richard Mayhew’s paintings feel like they revive the Impressionists’ tradition of painting from life and working outside. Mayhew’s landscapes, however, are painted inside his studio and are pulled from memories. He makes no sketches, photographs, or color notes on location. For Mayhew the process of painting is more spiritual; he attempts to re-experience a landscape for the first time while painting it. West’s ambiguous title speaks to both specific landscapes of the American West and Mayhew’s own memories and imaginings of the place.