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Mike Kelsey EXHIBiT

Mark Kelsey’s spray paint art now featured in the Park Theater Lobby Art Gallery

By Kathy Hanson

Mark Kelsey is the current Park Center’s featured artist in their lobby art exhibit and gallery, showing his work currently and through November. While many will remember Kelsey as Sawyer County’s sheriff and a 38-year law enforcement veteran, Kelsey has made a name for himself through his spray paint art.

Kelsey retired from law enforcement after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, which through much testing and medical treatment, is now fairly well controlled. The decision to leave law enforcement was a life changer but Kelsey said, “I heard it said that life is not about how you weather the storm but how you dance in the rain—and dance I shall.”

Mark Kelsey’s dance is in his spray paint art, a medium he came across unexpectedly when he watched a video of an artist in Mexico doing exactly that.

Kelsey picked up a couple of cans of spray paint and a piece of cardboard and off to the garage he went. That garage is now his studio where he works diligently—mostly at night, he said—creating stunning landscapes, portraits, wildlife and many other paintings.

“All of my art is done with spray paint—Rust-Oleum, Krylon, Ace—or whatever I can get my hands on,” said Kelsey, adding that he has no formal art training, so at first it was all, “Let’s try this and see what happens!”

“I have never been an artsy kind of guy, so meeting people in the art world has been interesting,” Kelsey said, adding that when he initially explains to people that he uses spray paint for his art their response is usually a question: “Do you mean like on railroad cars?”

He then tells them about the challenges of working with spray paint and doing it with Parkinson’s.

To date, Kelsey’s work has been shown at the Herbster Studio Art Tour, Fall Fest, and on his Facebook page, Leave Your Mark Studio.

“Dealing with Parkinson’s has been a challenge. I have surrounded myself with positive people and refuse to let the negative drag me down. I spend more time with the people I love and I enjoy my new-found hobby of painting. I want people with Parkinson’s and similar issues to understand that life is not over. The truth is that a new life has just begun,” Kelsey said.

See for yourself what this artist does with spray paint; visit The Park Theater Art Gallery or email Mark at

© 2006 The Park Center, Hayward WI. All Rights Reserved.