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Spring Arts Festival to honor local artist Lennie Kesl

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The 44th annual Spring Arts Festival will begin this Thursday at the Santa Fe College Fine Arts Hall.

Lennie Kesl.
Lennie Kesl.

The festival will honor Lennie Kesl — a local artist, musician and mentor — and his past work within the community.

Kathryn Lehman, Santa Fe cultural program coordinator, said doors open at 6 p.m. on Thursday for the initial event. A poster honoring Kesl will be unveiled at 6:30, followed by a collaborative performance put on by his friends and fans.

The festival will continue at 9 a.m. Saturday off Northeast 1st Street in Gainesville’s downtown historic district. It will include art exhibitions and live music performances, as well as a beer garden.

Proceeds from alcohol and art sales will go toward a scholarship fund in Kesl’s name.

“One of Lennie’s amazing qualities, besides being a visual artist that was recognized nationally and internationally and a performing artist — a jazz musician extraordinaire — he also was an incredible teacher,” Lehman said.

Kesl's artwork for the 1987 Spring Arts Festival.
Kesl's artwork for the 1987 Spring Arts Festival.

The festival runs through Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. There will be free activities for children as well as two stages for continuous entertainment and international food, according to a release.

Lehman said that Kesl was “kind and gentle” and always offered healthy criticism and conversation in and outside of the classroom.

“I kind of like to think of him as Gainesville’s muse of the arts,” Lehman said. “We so appreciate what he did for everyone in our community.”

About Ethan Magoc

Ethan is a journalist at WUFT News. He's a Pennsylvania native who found a home reporting Florida's stories. Reach him by emailing emagoc@wuft.org or calling 352-294-1525.

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