The Artist Behind the Mask

Artist Carlos Mascherin ’96 always knew he wanted to paint. “Nothing makes me feel closer to the Creator than when I’m creating and doing what I was designed to do: dispensing beauty upon the Earth via fine art,” he explains. By capturing a glance, a gesture and other intimate moments, Carlos’ paintings dance with movement and color.

Eric Charles Fossek (as he was known at Westmont) changed his name to create his own identity as an artist separate from his mother, Priscilla, who is a well known local painter. The last name, Italian for “little mask” (pronounced maskerín), seemed perfect to Carlos. His first name was chosen to honor his grandfather, Westmont alumnus Charles Wheelock ’56, whose best friend fondly called him “Carlos” during their frequent lunch meetings at a Mexican café.

Carlos transferred to Westmont from Santa Barbara City College because of his friendship with and respect for art Professor Tony Askew.

“Tony has done a terrific job incorporating Reynolds Gallery into the community,” Carlos says. “The gallery has a respected reputation that goes way beyond the Santa Barbara community. I admire that about him – he is an artist and a savvy businessman.”

Carlos enjoyed studying under art teachers with distinctively different approaches and techniques. After graduating with a major in art, he created a business with Westmont buddy Derol Frye ’96 and spent a year saving money to go to Italy.

“I had vacationed there with my family many times,” Carlos says. “I wanted to experience real life there instead of the brief perspective of a tourist. I wanted it to feel like home.”

While honing his skills in Italy and Spain, Carlos worked on “Sonar Flamenco,” a series of oil paintings based on flamenco dancers. Using a large format (some paintings are seven feet tall), Carlos captured the dancers’ colors and seductive movements. His next series zoomed in on specific features: the side of a face, the poised hands, the hair whipping past concentrated lips.

“I love working on a large scale,” Carlos says. “There’s no escaping the immediate intimacy of a piece that big. I do, however, paint in smaller formats as well. The subject in these pieces is so tightly zoomed in that you feel like you’re looking at something huge when all you’re getting is just a sliver. I want them to be just as powerful as the big paintings.”

During his five-and-a-half years in Europe, Carlos’s work received recognition from television shows and the Italian edition of GQ magazine. His paintings have appeared on the cover album of Italy’s most famous pop star, Biagio Antonacci, and in galleries in Milan, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Bologna.

Carlos has returned home to build his reputation in the United States. His work has appeared in Denver, West Hollywood and Santa Barbara, and he has sold a number of pieces through his Web site, www.carlosmascherin.com.

While he continues to work on series, he is also experimenting with abstract art, combining paint with poetry.

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