SEWE is proud to name Charleston artist Mark Kelvin Horton as its 2021 Featured Artist. Horton is known for his unique paintings of Lowcountry landscapes, representing the heart and soul of southern life in each of his pieces. He paints beyond a literal interpretation of a scene to portray nature in a way that reflects his own ideas and sensibilities, while capturing the grandiose beauty of billowing clouds over marshes, the elegance of an egret in flight or the effect of late light on a working oysterman. His painting, Onward, was chosen as the 2021 Featured Painting for its captivating perspective of a cloudy sky hanging over Charleston’s iconic waterways.

“It is a great honor to be selected as the Featured Artist for SEWE 2021,” said Horton. “This has been an interesting and trying time for us all over the last several months, a period full of uncertainty, change and adjustments. But, one thing I feel certain of is that we have not and will never give up. We will keep pushing forward in our own way. This is the message and feeling that I seek to convey in the Featured Painting, Onward. I have spent the last 20 years capturing the drama of the ever-changing weather conditions of the Lowcountry, often focusing on the more stormy views. Even though this piece has an element of turbulent skies, there is a hopefulness and brightness that, along with the egret taking flight, portrays what I believe we all will have for the coming days. The design further expresses that sense of moving ahead with hope and grace.”

“Mark will represent all of us as the 2021 Featured Artist, and his work entitled Onward, will serve as a reminder to persevere,” said John Powell, SEWE Executive Director. “Mark is respected and admired far beyond Charleston and he will be a great ambassador for SEWE and its esteemed collection of artists.”

Horton is the first Charleston-based artist to be named Featured Artist since John Carroll Doyle in 2005 . Onward is also the subject of the SEWE 2021 poster. Signed copies are available.


For the first time in its history, SEWE offered the 2021 Featured Painting, Onward by Mark Kelvin Horton, through an intent-to-purchase process that allowed prospective buyers from across the country an opportunity to own a beautiful work of art and piece of SEWE history. On Thursday, February 11, a name was drawn from collectors who chose to commit to the purchase. The buyer, from Charleston, South Carolina, has been notified and has had great interest in the Featured Painting since its announcement. Work is still available from Mark’s collection and can be seen here.

For those located in the Charleston area, we welcome you to view Mark Kelvin Horton’s unique landscape paintings in-person at his gallery, Horton Hayes Fine Art, located at 12 Queen Street in downtown Charleston.

Please email our Interim Artist Coordinator, Meagan Trotta, with any questions or for any additional information.


Mark Kelvin Horton was born and raised in rural North Carolina. After graduating from East Carolina University School of Art in 1983, Horton moved to New York City to begin a career in advertising and design. He carried with him the dream of someday becoming a painter.

Eighteen years of living in New York were spent working as a creative director in various advertising agencies and Horton eventually founded his own design company. Those years provided an invaluable opportunity for him to view and study firsthand the seemingly endless number of masterworks of art in the city’s museums and galleries. Horton became particularly fascinated with the works of George Inness, Herman Herzog, Frederick Church and the tonalist photographer, Edward Steichen, as well as the romantic landscapes of the Hudson River School painters. The experience had a profound effect on his artistic development.

During his years working as an artistic director and designer, Horton continued to nurture his “fine art side” by drawing, sketching and painting whenever he had the opportunity. But in early 2001, he made the decision to devote himself full-time to painting. He left New York City and returned to his southern roots, moving to Charleston, South Carolina.

Horton often travels from his home in Charleston to paint and teach across the country and in Europe. He is a member of many national artists organizations, including Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society and Plein Air Painters of the Southeast. Horton has earned numerous awards and been featured in several notable art publications, including Plein Air Magazine and American Art Collector. He has also served as judge for multiple painting competitions. Horton’s work is featured in hundreds of private, public and corporate collections around the world, including the Art in the Embassies program in Ottawa, Canada and Dakar, Senegal. He is also the co-owner of Horton Hayes Fine Art, located in historic downtown Charleston.


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