Creative Space: Three Prominent Atlanta-based Artists Highlighted for the Celebration of Richard Mayhew at BAIA

Creative Space: Three Prominent Atlanta-based Artists Highlighted for the Celebration of Richard Mayhew at BAIA


On April 4th, land took center stage at Black Art in America Gallery (BAIA) in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the birth of noted landscape artist, Richard Mayhew. As the group exhibition, Landscapes for Richard Mayhew (April 4 - May 18), pays tribute to the renowned artist and teacher whose career spans over seven decades.  

Mayhew, who currently lives in California, taught art at numerous universities and institutions while working as a practicing artist. In the 1960s, he also studied with the famed Art Students League and joined Spiral, the legendary New York–based Black artist collective that challenged racial inequalities in the art world. Through his advocacy, mentorship and deep reverence for nature, over the years Mayhew has continued to influence the artists of today.

A number of these artists are paying homage to Mayhew in BAIA’s spring exhibit by offering landscape paintings in honor of his art, life, and philosophies. Among them are three prominent artists based out of Atlanta’s Westview Studios, a historic church turned creative hub that now houses several artists’ studios. From this burgeoning artist community, Lillian Blades, Charly Palmer, and Jamele Wright Sr.—all have works presented in this invitational show honoring Mayhew.

Born in Nassau, Bahamas in 1973, Lillian Blades studied art at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia State University, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, and Caversham in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. The daughter of a seamstress, the mixed media artist credits her late mother as an important influence on her artistic process including her use of color, history, and memory. Blades’ unique assemblages incorporate small, found objects on canvas along with reflective mirrors to produce “slightly monochromatic” works of art.   

Blades’ work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions both domestically and internationally including such venues as the East Atlanta Library, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Jean Childs Young Middle School, the Birmingham Museum of Art, The Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Among her numerous awards, Blades has been recognized as the “Visual Artist of the Year” by the National Black Arts Festival, and has received an “Excellence in Arts” award from The Bahamas Consulate in Atlanta.

For the past three decades, Charly Palmer has painted the art world with powerful stories of the African diaspora. They are rhythmic and visual tales colored by culture and delivered to challenge the viewer’s perspective, revealing different things at different times to different people. Palmer’s iconic work with acrylic and his masterful employment of symbol, pattern, and texture has appealed to a wide international audience while speaking more directly to those who share and celebrate his hue. That said, his imagery moves beyond taxonomy and the human experience to express something higher than ourselves.

A student of the American Academy of Art and the School of Art Institute in Chicago, and a former art instructor at Spelman College, Palmer’s recognitions are far too abundant to enumerate. They include a commission by the United States Postal Services to produce the Black Heritage stamp series honoring the late Judge Constance Baker Motley; a 2024 NAACP Image Award for co-authoring The New Brownies Book: A Love Letter To Black Families; the illustrated cover art for John Legend's Grammy Award-winning studio album Bigger Love; the iconic cover art for Time Magazine’s "America Must Change" issue; and commissions for the 1996 Olympics, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fisk University, and Howard University. Palmer’s work graces major public, corporate and private collections across the country. 

Multidisciplinary artist Jamele Wright, Sr. is primarily focused on the Black American vernacular and creating visual conversations “between family, tradition, the spiritual and material relationship between Africa and the South.” Employing found materials, and heavily influenced by Hip Hop sampling and the Great Migration of Black Americans, Wright incorporates such energies in his art while piecing together compelling narratives about the African diaspora.

Upon relocating to Atlanta, the Ohio native studied at Georgia State University and subsequently the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Wright opened Neo Renaissance Art House in Atlanta as a way of addressing the city’s young artists in need of representation. Alongside his numerous solo and group exhibitions and honors, Wright has completed a fellowship at Project for Empty Spaces in Newark, N.J. and a residency at Hambidge Art Center in Rabun Gap, Georgia. 

As participants in Landscapes for Richard Mayhew, these three artists represent a unique community and creative hub at Westview Studios, on the South Westside of Atlanta. A space where over a dozen young, emerging artists have found community and mentorship from participants in this centennial exhibition. Therefore, Lillian, Charly and Jamele’s presence in this show not only represents a contemporary connection to landscape painting traditions, but also a bridge. In that, their participation means that a new generation of artists being mentored, now have a personal connection and interest in a special exhibition honoring the legacy of Richard Mayhew. In short, their invitation embodies BAIA’s mission to document, preserve and promote the contributions of the African American arts community.


About Black Art In America: Black Art In America Gallery and Sculpture Garden is located at 1802 Connally Drive, Atlanta, GA 30344. Through its website (www.blackartinamerica.com) and quarterly publication, BAIA has become the leading platform for individuals seeking information about African American art.


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