Mayhew was born in 1924 to parents of African American and Native American descent. He was educated at the Art Students League, NY; Brooklyn Museum Art School; and Pratt University, as well as receiving a degree in art history at Columbia University, NY. During this time, he studied under Edwin Dickinson, Reuben Tam, Hans Hofmann, and Max Beckmann. Mayhew was one of the founding members of the group Spiral, formed in 1963 by Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, and Hale Woodruff and worked to address issues of civil rights and racial inequality through art.
Mayhew’s first solo exhibition was held at the Brooklyn Museum in 1955 with a second solo exhibition held in 1957 at Morris Gallery, NY, both of which met with much critical success. His work has also been exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem; San Jose Museum of Art, CA; Butler Institute of American Art, OH; High Museum of Art GA; and Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 2009, a retrospective of his work including paintings from the 1950’s through the 1970’s was held at the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA.
His work is found in the collections of Albion College, Michigan; Brooklyn Museum, NY; Evansville Museum, IN; Midtown Galleries, NY; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.