Press Release

Sullivan Goss is proud to announce NELL BROOKER MAYHEW: Paintings from the Estate – an exhibition featuring a selection of five freshly­discovered oils on canvas and a trove of newly­acquired paintings on paper and graphics by Nell Brooker Mayhew, a progressive artist from the Midwest who brought her distinctive, lyrical vision out West to describe the California landscape and its architecture from 1908 to 1940. Sullivan Goss has owned and represented the Estate of the artist for over a decade. This is the first large cache of new art work from the family to be purchased and offered for sale in all that time.

Nell Brooker Mayhew took her degree in French Impressionism from Northwestern University and went on to study at the University of Illinois at Urbana­Champaign. With her teacher Newton Wells, she patented her unusual “color etching” process, which involved making a monotype over an etching. The painterly effects caused by painting by printing press (monotyping) placed Mayhew’s aesthetic solidly in the modernist vanguard. Her lyrical lines and reductive sensibility, likewise, showed her fluency with Japanese prints. When she arrived in L.A. in 1908, she would have been one of the area’s most forward­looking artists. Today, art historians associate her work with Art Nouveau, Symbolism, and the Arts & Crafts movement – all schools or styles of work that represented the cutting edge of art from the 1880s into the mid 1920s.

Showing with such well­known California artists as William Wendt, Edgar Payne, and Hanson Puthuff, Mayhew forged a career in a time and place when opportunities for artists were limited. For women artists, things were even more difficult. Nevertheless, Mayhew participated fully in the artistic culture of early L.A., arguing for wildflower preservation, teaching at USC, and eventually, opening her own gallery.

In 2005, the gallery’s own Alissa Anderson worked with Dr. Gloria Rexford Martin to research and write the first monograph dedicated to Mayhew, Nell Brooker Mayhew: Paintings on Paper. In 2006, the Illinois Women Artist’s Project began collecting information on pioneering artists like Mayhew, and in 2009, made the gallery’s videos and research on Mayhew a part of their database.

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