Ealy Mays - Biography

Paris-Ealy-Mays8

Only the great masters of style ever succeed in being obscure
…Oscar Wilde, 'Philosophies and Phrases for the Use of the Young'

Described by Jacob Lawrence as the best narrative painter he had ever met, West Texas native and Paris-based Ealy Mays has been the bad boy of contemporary art who has challenged art enthusiasts with his brand of subtle satire and eclectic style for over 45 years. During his residency at Skowhegan with the likes of Lawrence, Nan Goldin, Gary Hill, Jessica Stockholder, and Anish Kapoor, Lawrence took Mays under his wings.  Today Mays counts Lawrence, Jackson Pollock, Ed Clark, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Rufino Tamayo, and Franz Kline as inspirations for his work, which combines social commentary, the raw edge of street murals, classical and contemporary forms, and abstract imagery.

Ealy Mays has the distinction of abandoning his education and training as a medical doctor to pursue his art. The former medical student from Wichita Falls Texas, whose calling was art, is distinguished from many in his lack of a formal degree or training in art.  He is a permanent recurring resident at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and is also a local Paris historian with a passion for introducing visiting tourists to the extraordinary African American literary and artistic legacy within the city walls. 


Jacob Lawrence Recommendation 

Contemporary artwork from Ealy Mays has been exhibited in the Mexico’s Galeria Clava, Paris’ Carrousel du Louvre, New York’s Guggenheim, Mexico’s annual José Clemente Orozco Art competition, in Italy, Finland, Germany, Russia, Vienna Austria, and elsewhere. His “Last Vernissage” also figures prominently among the likes of Romare Bearden, Beauford Delaney, Herbert Gentry, Lois Mailou-Jones, Richard Mayhew, Henry O. Tanner, and others, in Larry and Brenda Thompson’s “Tradition Redefined”, A collection of African American Artists.

 

Tradition Redefined 1Tradition Redefined 2Tradtion Redefined 3Tradition Redefined 4

 

Legendary painter Henry Ossawa Tanner was the first African American to exhibit at the Louvre. Ealy Mays’s 2005 “Migration of the Superheroes” exhibit at the Carrousel du Louvre makes Mays one of the few African American artists to date that has traced Tanner’s footsteps to the Louvre.  He was also invited back to exhibit in 2007 as well.  Ealy Mays is a master of the contemporary narrative, much of which is uniquely historical while at the same time, anticipatory.  His varied narratives may take us from West Texas to New York City, or from Guadalajara Mexico to Paris France and beyond.  

Series Gallery 

The Latino series is a tribute to the rich contribution of black and brown people from south of the border, to the American experience, as well as images from his experience living in Mexico, where the history and culture arising from the ashes of Hernán Cortés’ 1521 conquest over Aztec Emperor Cuauhtémoc and the ensuing destruction of Tenochtitlán and the Aztec empire, continued to influence much of the art of the region. His Mexican Dead series pays tribute to the subtleties and traditions in the Mexican culture surrounding death and the afterlife, including a national holiday to pay respect and to honor the dead on Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos). 

His Blue Watermelon series denote the subtlety of forms not naturally occurring in nature but which can still be beautifully presented to the imagination. They tend to, indicate unlikely circumstances and with his frequent wishbone insertions, become wishing wells of human aspirations, while mousetraps convey the pitfalls.  The Black Pope series presents the black Pope as Europe's logical answer to the election of the first black President of the United States and 

The Jockey Boy series salutes the black jockeys who dominated the first century of the Kentucky Derby yet were later written out of the Derby’s history and out of the history of American racing.  Other varied context of the iconic image in African American history, including the story of “Jocko” Tom Graves, the 'Faithful Groomsman' to General George Washington during Washington's assault on British Troops in Trenton, N.J. as well as the men who pointed the way to safe houses along the Underground Railroad from the South to Canada.   

His Mammy series pays tribute to the most integral individual in America’s evolution – the black woman. At some point or another in American life, everyone had a Mammy.  The Paris Series captures imagery of today’s Paris.  They also remind us of the wealth of African American artistic contribution to the city of lights since the mid 1800s as well as the city’s role in encouraging black artistic and intellectual development, which changed American and the world.  Ealy Mays paints Paris stories, 'black Paris', 'Paris Noir', and the 'spirit of Paris' from the mid 19th century to the present.

Cleaning Out Picasso’s Studio pays tribute to the ‘borrowed’ yet mostly unattributed influence of African art in Picasso’s paintings. While Gertrude Stein and others typically referenced 1907 as Picasso's "Negro Period", African influence could clearly be seen in his "Head of a Woman" (1906), "Les Demoiselles D'Avignon" (1906), and "Two Nude Women" (1908).  One can argue that Cubism which, started around 1908, was a continuation of the "Negro Period" in which Picasso experimented with the fusing of the "Negro Period" imageries.  In his narratives, Mays has the bull (Picasso) being tamed and directed by a black woman (representative African art influences)

In his Mammy series, Ealy Mays’s take on Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece has resulted in a uniquely African Mona Lisa with eyes even more penetrating, and a simplicity even more grandiose.

The Conscious Commentary series is the artist as a fearless social critic on events of our times.  Aunt Jemima and The Colonel Series, employs humor to convey Paris as a place of freedom and a natural refuge from puritanical America and her obssession with social taboos such as inter-racial relationships and homosexuality.  And the Art Gallery series chronicles images from artist’s own experience with galleries in multiple countries.

Ealy Mays has lived and worked in Latin America and the Caribbean and has painted in the four corners of Europe – from the sweet vineyards of Italy to the marching of Soviet troops on the border from Lapland, Finland. This has shaped his views and his work. He paints what he sees as well as what you imagine. His paintings all tell a unique story of our history, present, and future.

In the footsteps of Palmer Hayden, Hale Woodruff, Joshua Johnston, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Robert S. Duncanson, Horace Pippin, Augusta Savage, William H. Johnson, Romare Bearden, Beauford Delaney, Jacob Lawrence, Harold Cousins, Ed Clarke, Lois Mailou Jones, Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, and Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, Ealy Mays continues as the expatriate painter in the city described by his literary hero as “a place where one could claim ones soul”.

EXHIBITS - AUSTRIA

2012

13 Mar – 31 Dec

Gallerie Benedict, Vienna, Austria - Collective Exhibition: 15 varied paintings

Curator: Mickla Moore

 EXHIBITS - ITALY

2000 / Aug

Palazzo Barbarigio, Venice, Italy: Individual Exhibition

 EXHIBITS - MEXICO

1994

Jose Clemente Orosco, Mexico City, Mexico – Individual Exhibition: “War Bus”

1994

American School, Guadalajara, Cancun, & Monterey, Mexico - Individual Exhibition: “War Bus”

1994

Jose Clemente Orosco, Acapulco, Morelia, Aguascalientes, Tepic, Zicatecas, Guadalajara, & Zapopan, Mexico - Individual Exhibition:

“War Bus”

1993

October Art Fair, Guadalajara, Mexico – Individual Exhibition:

“Last Train to Chihuahua”

1992

American Day Celebration, Guadalajara, Mexico - Individual Exhibition: “Last Train to Chihuahua”

1991

Tercer Luger October Show, Guadalajara ICC, - Individual Exhibition: “Last Train to Chihuahua”

1991

Clave Gallery, Guadalajara Mexico, - Individual Exhibition:

“Woman in Blue”

1990

American School, Guadalajara, Mexico - Individual Exhibition:

“Games for Dead Flesh”

 EXHIBITS - FRANCE

2012 / May

Péniche Juju, Paris France – Individual Exhibition:

”Dissection of Aunt Gemima”

2012 /

06 Mar – 06 May

Galerie John Ferrere, rue Dauphine, Paris France -

Collective Exhibition

2012/2013 /

Jun – Jan

Residency, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France

2011 /

18 Sep – 28 Nov

Dorothy’s Gallery, Paris, France- Collective Exhibition:

“Paris Texas - Culture Shock”

2010

04 Jun – 31 Aug

Mona Lisait Library, Paris France – Individual Exhibition:

“Yellow Mona Lisa” oil on canvas 3x2.5ft

2009 /Jul

Residency, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France

2009

Quai 21 Gallery, Paris France -  Individual Exhibition:

”Dead Mexican Series”

2009

Gallery Jardin d’Acclimatation, Paris France – Collective Exhibition: “The Man With The Bango”

“Peep Show for $1”

Run Silent Run Deep”

“34 Miles to San Antonio”

2008 / 09

Sep - Feb

Dorothy’s Gallery, Paris France – American Appreciation Month Collective Exhibition:

“Submarine Series”

“USS Obama”

“Obama in Paris”

“Yes We Can Donuts”

“The Attic”

“From Paris Texas to Paris France Revisited”

“Big Boy”

“The Pecking Order”

“Mona Lisa For Obama”

2008

Interviewed by France’s largest two newspapers: Le Monde, Le Figaro

2008 / Dec

Palais Royal, Paris France – Collective Exhibition

2008 / Sep

Black Essence Exhibition – Paris France

2008 / Sep

Mona Lisait Library, Paris France – Individual Exhibition

2008

Nov

Residency, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France – Individual Exhibition

2007 / Dec

Carrousel du Louvre, Paris, France - Individual Exhibition

2007

Apr - Nov

Residence, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France – Individual Exhibition:

“Submarine Series”

2006

23 Feb – 14 Mar

Espace Saint-Sauveur, Hopital Corentin Celton, 92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux – Black History Month Collective Exhibition (with Joseph Langley)

2006 / Sep

 

Les Fous de l’ile, (Colonne Morris et Metro), Paris, France – Individual Exhibition

2006

Mar - May

Galerie Volta, Paris France – Individual Exhibition

2005

15 Aug – 19 Dec

Carrousel du Louvre, Salle Le Nôtre, Paris, France - Individual Exhibit:

“Migration of the Superheroes”

2004

Apr

Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France - Collective Exhibition

 

 

AGICA Company Headquarters, Paris, France – Individual Exhibition

2002

Oct 0 Nov

Residency, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France – Collective Exhibition

2001

Galerie Artitude, Paris, France – Individual Exhibition

2001

Galerie Loulo, Uzes, France – Individual Exhibition:

“Bullfighting and Flamenco

2001

Jul - Oct

Residency, Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France

Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France - Collective Exhibition

Galerie SUD, rue de Charonne, Paris France - Individual Exhibition

1999

Haynes Restaurant, Paris, France – Individual Exhibit: “Homage to American Jazz in Paris”

Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France - Collective Exhibition

3rd Prize Winner – Oktoberfest Art Exhibit, Paris, France

Paris Stock Exchange Studio Place, Paris, France – Individual Exhibition

Notre-Dame de Lorette, Paris, France: Individual Exhibit

1997 - 1998

Residency, Cite Internationale des Arts (18 rue de l’Hotel de Ville, 75004), Paris, France

1997

Les Fous de l’ile, Paris, France – Individual Exhibition

EXHIBITS – UNITED STATES

2013

Retrospective, New York, N.Y (to be announced)

2012

Sep

Rice University, Houston TX: Art Conference / Speaking Engagements

University of Houston, Houston TX: Art Conference / Speaking Engagements

2010/2011

27 Mar

University of Georgia Museum: Art Conference / Speaking Engagement / Individual Exhibition

“Tradition Re-defined” (Larry and Brenda Thompson collection)

 

Two paintings on permanent exhibition

  1. v“The Little Room”
  2. v“The Last Vernissage”

2010/2011

University of Florida, Gainesville, FL - 200 Years of African American Art Retrospective: “The Last Vernissage” (2ft x 3ft oil)

 

 

2010

11 Nov – 4 Dec

Fortissimo Gallery, New York, NY – Individual Exhibition:

“From Here to There - Retrospective of 30 years of Ealy Mays Artwork”

2010 / Nov

Golf Coast Art Festival, Mobile, Alabama – Collective Exhibition

May

National Black & Hispanic Journalist, Atlanta Georgia – Individual Exhibition

Apr

Hamonds Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia – Collective Exhibition: African American Art Collection

2009/2010

University of Florida - 200 Years of African American Art Retrospective:

“Tradition Re-defined” (Larry and Brenda Thompson collection)

2008 - 2009

University of Maryland College Park, David C. Driskell Center -  Collective Exhibition:

“Tradition Re-defined” (Larry and Brenda Thompson collection)

2009 / Apr

Hamonds Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia – Collective Exhibition:

“African American Art Collection”

2009 / Mar

Jacob Javitz Center , New York, NY – Collective Exhibition

2009 / Sep

University of Texas Southern, Houston, TX - Collective Exhibition: “Tradition Re-defined”

2008

University of Maryland College Park, David C. Driskell Center -  Collective Exhibition:

“Tradition Re-defined” (Larry and Brenda Thompson collection)

2008 / Jul

Upstairs Gallery, Chicago IL – Collective Exhibition

2007

Sinclair’s Gallery New York, NY – Collective Exhibition (Paul Sinclair’s collection)

2007 / Feb

Polk Fine Arts, New York, NY – Individual Exhibition

2006

May - June

Art Cultural Center, Marshal TX – Individual Exhibition:

“From Paris Texas to Paris France”

2006 / Apr

Hamman Gallery, Atlanta GA – Collective Exhibition

2003

New York Times National Black Fine Art Exhibition, New York, NY: Individual Exhibition

 

Hatch Billops Collection, New York, NY – Collective Exhibition

 

Ed Clark Studio Gallery, New York, NY – Collective Exhibition with Ed Clark

2002

New York Times National Black Fine Art Exhibition, New York, NY: Individual Exhibition

 

Hatch Billops Collection, New York, NY – Collective Exhibition

 

Ed Clark Studio Gallery, New York, NY – Collective Exhibition with Ed Clark

 

Color Purple Exhibition, Dayton, OH – Individual Collection

 

Cobb Gallery, Los Angeles CA – Individual Exhibition

2000

Black Creativity Contest, Chicago IL – Individual Exhibition:

“In search of Spartacus”

1998

Spice Caribbean Gallery, Berkeley CA – Individual Exhibition:

“Gumbo Zydeco”

“King of Zydeco”

“Zydeco King”

“Zydeco Dance”

“Fishes would not get hooked if they did not opened their mouths”

“Last Decade of the Skoweghan Foundation”

1998 / Sep

Gallery David Beitzel, New York, NY – Individual Exhibition

1997

Lycee Franco-American of East Bay, Berkeley, CA – Individual Exhibition:

“Three Legendary Cowboys”

 

African American Exposition, Liwa OH (sponsored by the African American Museum of Wilberforce OH)– Individual Exhibition:

“Caribbean Rhythm”

“Black Madonna – Present, Past, & Future”,

“Zydeco King”

 

Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York, NY - Finalist

1996

Guggenheim Museum & Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY – Slide Projection by the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture:  “Caribbean Rhythm”

“Fruit Choices”

“Zydeco Rhythm”

“20th Century African-American and his old Tribal Fruit”

1995

Science & Industry Exhibit, Chicago, IL – Individual Exhibition:

“Caribbean Rhythm”

“Indigent Woman: Do Not Eat the Fruit of The Apple”

1994

Indiana Black Art Exhibit, IN – Individual Exhibition:

“Release of The Black Madonna by Captain Schoonover”

“Caribbean Rhythm”

1993 - 1994

Dayton Art Exhibition, Dayton OH - Individual Exhibition:

“Indigent Woman: Do Not Eat the Fruit of The Apple”

1991

Liberation of African American Arts Celebration, Malxcom X Park, Washington DC – Collective Exhibition:

“Caribbean Paintings”

1980

Wiley College Art Expo, Marshal TX – Individual Exhibition

1978

Black Expo, TX – Individual Exposition (Acrylic):

“Seascapes / Seaside”

1978

Wiley College Art Expo, Marshal TX – Individual Exhibition – varied paintings

1976

Governor’s Exhibit, Dayton, OH – Individual Exhibition (Acrylic):

“The Spirit of 76”

1974

Fairview Exhibit, Dayton, OH – Individual Exhibition (Paper Colors):

“Bouquet of Water Lillies”

1973

Fairview Exhibit, Dayton, OH – Individual Exhibition (Acrylic):

“Conquistadors on Horseback”

1972

Governor’s Exhibit, Dayton, OH – Individual Exhibition (Acrylic):

“Venetian Landscape”

EDUCATION/ STUDIES/ RESIDENCIES

1996 - Resident artist and sculpture, Skowhegan School, Maine
1986-1992 - Medical diploma, University of Autonoma, Guadalajara, Mexico
1981 - Bsc. Chemistry and Biology, Wiley College, Marshall Texas
1977 - High School diploma, Fairview High, Dayton Ohio
1976 - Art Certificate (design) University of Dayton, Ohio
1972 - Art Certificate, Center for Live Arts, Dayton, Ohio
1971 - Student of Mary Frek on American Natural Paintings

 

Welcome to Ealy Mays Artworks

Celebration of over 150 years of Black Literary and Artistic development in Paris

Here you will find the works of one of the most prolific African American artists. Based in Paris, France, this selection includes current masterpieces as well retrospectives from a body of over 30 years as an ethnic artist painting in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Your choice of paintings, prints, posters, postcards, puzzles, memorabilia, T-shirts, collectibles, accessories,and more, is only a click away. Read more

It is the spectator and not life, that really mirrors art”  The Picture of Dorian Gray …Oscar Wilde

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