1918 - 2009
Born in Rhode Island and a product of the Rhode Island School of Design, Maxwell Mays began his painting career seriously when he was stationed in Recife, Brazil during World War II. He was discovered by an art collector from Colorado who was a U.S. Naval Officer. They became friends and this resulted in his first show at the museum in Colorado Springs, and then at the Denver Museum.
Returning to peacetime, not having set foot in New England in five years he saw the once familiar scene in a new light and painted enthusiastically. Eighteen pictures made up his first show at Ferargil Gallery in New York City. Frederic Newlin Price, the director, had previously sponsored Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Arthur B. Davies and Lauren Ford. His debut on the famous 57th Street was a sell-out. Maxwell Mays tells stories in each one of his paintings. He lives and paints in a Rhode Island farmhouse which was built in 1737 and has been carefully restored and filled with his work and artifacts which often appear in his pictures. His association with YANKEE, the New England Magazine has brought to the public a series of cover pictures adding greatly to his popularity as a ‘collectable artist’.
His wonderful paintings reflect Maxwell Mays’ love of Rhode Island history. He is now Rhode Island’s best known collectable artist. He has been painting things he remembers for a long time, and the essence, the spirit, the joy that has been wrapped in the tissue paper of memory breaks through. He believes in happiness!...all along the way we have a choice...look for the bright side. His 'trick' is to take you on a memory trip.
When I am holding a brush I own the world. Little by little I find I can invite you in too. For instance a kitchen... a perfectly painted stove is fine; if you don’t stop there. Paint the smell of coffee perking, muffins baking, mittens drying and a clock ticking. If you can make this happen (and it IS possible) you are painting LOVE....and with that you are ‘in touch’ !....In touch with something big and too wonderful to give a name to. Painting to me is a way of believing. And for me - IT WORKS. Maxwell Mays