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Accomplished Los Angeles mixed media artist Carol Surface will display approximately 20 of her multi-layered paintings on the walls of Upper West Restaurant in Santa Monica.

The pieces will be installed this Sunday morning with an opening reception later in the day from 4-7 pm.

The exhibition titled “Endless Layers of Life” will remain on display through Jan. 26, 2014.

Surface said she’s been an artist for the past 25 years.

She said her paintings exhibit urban symbols illuminating the human condition.

“The need to be seen and heard and the relentless search for personal identity in a crowded world are the central themes of my work,” Surface said.

Since her beginnings in the 1980s as a watercolor artist and teacher, translucency and the desire to see through layers has remained a key aspect of her work.

In this series of paintings incorporating her photographs and prose, painterly icons call to mind threadbare postings that vie for attention while displaying hidden messages.

Dark bestrides light, expressing the dichotomies that surround and infuse us while we strive to be centered.

Surface said the central philosophy of her work centered around being human.

“Whatever strife we encounter on the path to discovering the patterns of our psyches, we remain as we began: vulnerable beings straddling structure and freedom, driven by the hunger for love yet haunted by the desire to hide,” she said.

She said she shot many photographs in Vancouver many years ago which she has used as inspiration for many of the works she’s made.

“I am quite taken with the ways people reach out — or don’t — to one another,” she said. “I happened upon the bus stand at UBC (University of British Columbia) and went crazy over all the postings on the glass partitions. They represent people’s wanting and needing, a big subject that’s at the core of my work.”

She said the 20 pieces in this show originate from the past to the present, including two seminal pieces that set the tone for the series.

“My inspiration comes from a need to understand the layers of the human psyche and the need to be heard and loved — elements that define every person on this planet,” she said. “I’m inspired by the jumble of layers in the urban environment as well as music, typically British pop rock — a song’s tempo and lyrics heavily influence my work.”

She said her process can be very complex and a piece can be many years in the making. “Sometimes it can take just a few days or weeks,” she said. “I don’t repeat myself and I seldom plan a piece beforehand. I have taught art for 20 years and my students always marvel that I don’t know what I’m going to paint before I started, but I like surprises and I live to discover what’s buried in my psyche.”

She said she begins expressing herself subliminally, pouring, stamping, and guiding her materials — be they paint, ink, drawing materials, or photographs.

“I’ve printed on various supports — and then let the piece tell me where it wants to go,” she said. “Often, as with people, the piece can be very stingy in revealing its innermost needs, so I must wait until its time has come to evolve, for me to reapproach it and complete the statement.”

The exhibition is a partnership between Upper West restaurant and local company The Beach Vault.

Upper West is open for lunch from 11:30 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday and open for dinner seven days a week from 5 pm.

For more information, call 310.899.4422 or visit