Local Artist Lennie Kesl Dies at 86

Well-known local artist Lennie Kesl hugs Rebecca Nagy, director of the Harn Museum of Art, during the “20 Years of the Harn” celebration at the museum on Oct. 10, 2010. By Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun/File

Noted Gainesville artist Lennie Kesl, whose distinctive and colorful work has been displayed in many shows and public places, died Friday night after falling on stairs in his home, friends and family said.

Kesl, 86, was a former art professor at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College, and was a friend, mentor and partner to other local artists.

“He certainly was one of a kind. Yesterday he was at the studio … and he was just so incredibly energetic. He was in great spirits and was really, really happy about everything,” said ceramic artist John Tilton, who has collaborated with Kesl for decades. “He lived every day as if it was his last. He was an amazing person. I’m still in absolute shock. I’m just trying to absorb the whole thing.”

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Portrait of Lennie Kesl by Hiram D. Williams hanging in E-134