Mark Westervelt

Mark Westervelt is an award-winning painter and co-founder of The Left Bank Gallery in Kansas City. During the late eighties and early nineties it was one of the first venues where artists with progressive artistic visions could make and feature their works, setting a foundation for the Kansas art scene. While running the gallery Westervelt received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting at the Kansas City Art Institute. He completed his formal studies in Chicago, acquiring a Master of Fine Arts in painting at the University of Chicago.

While a classically trained artist, Westervelt's style of art has transformed over the course of his career to incorporate various mediums. Most notable is his ingenious use of dried paint pasted onto his works, creating a unique three-dimensional texture to his emotionally powerful paintings. Artists are constantly striving to create something new but few can claim inventing their own medium. Westervelt can. He creates and works with dried paint skins that he later applies to mixed-media compositions. It is a unique process that has become synonymous with Westervelt's work and is unlike anything else found in contemporary art today.

Like many discoveries, Westervelt stumbled on the use of dried paint by accident. While working with oil paints he found that much of it dripped onto the plastic on the floor and, not wanting to waste it, attempted to bring it back into the painting. The dried paint chips brought new texture and an element of randomness to the canvas that was beautiful and evoking. Now, ever since the science of paint changed, Westervelt has taken his dried paint practice a step further. He paints directly on plastic and once dry, peels the paint skin off and applies it to a canvas. By using multiple layers of skins, he creates his composition like an appliqué – except, with his own unique medium.

Westervelt's paintings reflect a certain raw primitivism that is both moving and seductive. Many of his works feature faces and figures that express the emotions and inner conditions of being human. Though at first glance his pieces may seem abstract, each facial expression and body language convey feelings we are all familiar with and experience – struggle, confusion, calm, humor, frustration, clarity and the list goes on. The works are emotive and contemplative. They express through the artist's singular visual language what it means to be human, the journeys we embark on, and the evolution of the self.