475 25th Street, Oakland CA 94612

Friday + Saturday: 12-5pm and by appt.

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Raymond L. Haywood: Love Letters and Love Notes

October 22nd, 2021 – November 27th, 2021

Raymond L. Haywood remembers that the context for his series Love Letters and Love Notes was evolving in late 2019 before “the COVID year.” Up to this point, brilliant color and bold compositions were signifiers in his aesthetic as well as in the emotional rhythms of his paintings. Inspired by landscapes and the sea, he surfed through layered colors and textures to uncover succinct improvisational gestures for his emotions. COVID-19 brought fear, indecision and placed plans on hold. Struggling with insecurity and voice, a new body of work came as a breakthrough. Through a key decision to incorporate the color black as ground, Haywood has produced his most mature body of work to date.

In two significant paintings, Absence of Light and Testify, Haywood developed his now-signature image of a stylized cowrie shell. The cowrie shell has many contexts and meanings in the African Diaspora that parallel the artist’s experiences as an African-American man in America. He states that “these paintings felt like wrestling with myself.” For Haywood, painting is a means of communication like no other: it is the praxis that brings meaning to his life.


Raymond L. Haywood works in the historic African-American community of West Oakland. Born and currently living in Berkeley, Haywood feels that the city’s energy contributes to his desire to communicate with both critical thinking and empathy. He studied with Faith Ringgold and Italo Scanga at the University of California, San Diego, and received an MFA in painting from San Francisco State University. His work has been shown at Metal Haus Gallery in Oakland; and SomArts and the StARTup Art Fair in San Francisco. Passionate about painting, drawing, arts advocacy, and education, Haywood has participated in the Art of the African Diaspora exhibition at the Richmond Art Center for the past twenty-five years. This is his first solo show at Mercury 20 Gallery.

Testify Finai
Raymond L. Haywood, Testify (2021). Acrylic and mixed media on wood panel. 60 x 60 x 2 inches. Photo by Duane Conliffe. $10,000
Raymond Haywood Portrait By Gene Dominique Lo Res 1

Raymond L. Haywood

Raymond L. Haywood is a Berkeley, CA native and abstract expressionist painter. His studio is in the historic Carleton Street Studios, also in Berkeley. Haywood has taught junior college art classes and is currently a high school instructor of construction at Freedom High in Oakley, CA.  Haywood received his BFA from the University of California at San Diego and his MFA from San Francisco State University. He is a founding member of the annual Art of the African Diaspora exhibition hosted by the Richmond Art Center.

FB: @RaymondLHaywood

IG: @raymondlhaywood

Mercury 20 Gallery

475 25th Street, Oakland CA 94612
Tel: 510-701-4620

Gallery hours: Friday + Saturday: 12-5pm and by appt