Thomas Center Galleries Announce a Blockbuster Double Exhibition CONFLUENCE :: LENNIE & JESSE


The Thomas Center Galleries announce a new double exhibition CONFLUENCE :: LENNIE & JESSE featuring the work of two of Gainesville’s most esteemed masters - Lennie Kesl and Jesse Aaron. THE FACES OF KESL Drawings by Lennie Kesl with photographs by Charlotte Kesl and TREE OF LIFE The Work of Jesse Aaron will be on view in the Thomas Center Main and Mezzanine Galleries from Friday, May 27 to Tuesday, Sept. 20. The opening reception for CONFLUENCE :: LENNIE & JESSE is Friday, May 27, from 7-10 p.m. during Artwalk Gainesville.

Curated by Anne E. Gilroy, this double exhibition recognizes the artwork and legacy of two of Gainesville’s renowned artists, Leonard E. Kesl (1926-2012) and Jesse James Aaron (1887-1979). The Kesl drawings and Aaron sculptures on display have rarely, if ever, been seen, and allow visitors to celebrate the immense creativity and talent of these nationally-recognized artists who once called Gainesville home. Remarkable photographs of the artists at work provide context for their pieces and insight into their artistic process.

CONFLUENCE encompasses two distinct exhibitions:
THE FACES OF KESL Drawings by Lennie Kesl with photographs by Charlotte Kesl features striking line drawings of familiar faces by late artist, musician and teacher Lennie Kesl, who was a powerful influence on many in the cultural community throughout his long career. Juxtapositioned to these works are sensitive photographic portraits of her father by Charlotte Kesl, a talented artist in her own right. This exhibition commemorates Kesl’s 90th birthday, who died in 2012.

TREE OF LIFE The Work of Jesse Aaron features the sculptural artworks of Jesse Aaron who, at 81-years-old, felt called upon by God to begin carving wood. Over the next 11 years, the yard of Aaron’s Northwest Seventh Avenue house would fill with his remarkable creations representing both humans and animals, some of which would go on to be included in the collections of America’s foremost museums and considered the work of one of our nation’s great self-taught artists. Adding further significance to the exhibition, TREE OF LIFE will be displayed in the Thomas Center’s Main Gallery, which was previously the Thomas Hotel’s kitchen - the same space where Aaron once worked as a baker and pastry cook.

Images from artwork in the exhibition can be viewed online at

At the May 27 exhibition opening reception, the Thomas Center Associates, the volunteer organization that supports the Thomas Center’s beautification and education initiatives, will debut the new edition of their book “The Thomas Center: Illustrated History & Guide.” This informative overview of the community’s historic treasure will be available for purchase at the event.

The Thomas Center Galleries are located at 302 NE Sixth Ave. in Gainesville. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. The galleries are closed for observed holidays. For additional gallery information, please contact Russell Etling, cultural affairs manager, at 352-393-8532 or visit