He Loved Through Art: Esau ‘Mark’ Kessler

I want to tell you about a longtime VineArts leader who now inhabits heaven. His name is Mark Kessler, also known as Esau. In my last post I wrote how Mark’s early departure has deepened my understanding of this limited time that we have to create. Today I want to tell you about the heart of this man, and how he connected with people through art.

Mark Kessler

We, his art family, lovingly installed his posthumous art exhibit “New Eyes” at church after our brave cancer warrior left us last month.

“New Eyes” is a fitting legacy for a man who enjoyed shining the light of his faith in Christ to countless people in the Boise community. This artist now looks directly at Light who is God Himself. No more “looking through a glass dimly” for him.

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Mark loved Boise. He was always connecting and encouraging his fellow artists and musicians, always looking for opportunities to bless artists in their own art and illuminate new talent, always interacting with and blessing his beloved city.

Mark was the first encourager of the VineArts Ministry. He came up to me in 2004 with his long ponytail and trench coat, and introduced himself: “I hear you’re starting an arts ministry,” he said. “I’ve been a graphic designer for many years and have served other churches, and my advice to you as an artist is this: Always ensure you are serving from a place of abundance, never from a place of obligation or burnout.” I still live by his words. For ten short years I enjoyed Mark’s warm friendship and heartfelt support for the advancement of the arts at Vineyard Boise Church.

Mark Kessler had a knack for introducing us to very silly social media stuff, which delighted some and baffled others. Here is a screen shot of the VineArts leaders dancing to “Baby Monkey” after our Epiphany service on January 5, 2013. Thanks for getting that song stuck in our head forever, Mark.

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We celebrate you, beautiful Mark. You are sorely missed. Your art will live on. May it speak life and Light to all who see it.

—Jessie Nilo, VineArts Director

More memories written by VineArts leaders… Feel free to add your own thoughts of Mark Kessler in the comments.

“One day at Open Studio a young man from another country came in to do some art.  He could barely speak English, and I was trying to communicate with him with not much success. Mark was there and came over to see if he could help. Within a few minutes it was amazing to see them communicating, not necessarily verbaly but with hand motions and drawings. They ‘talked’ for quite some time and the guy completed an art piece which hung on the wall in the studio for a while. Mark had a way with people that was reMarkable. He would offer help to anyone who seemed to be stuck in their art work. I know I learned a lot from him. I will never forget him. Love you Mark, miss you so.”
—Susan Williams

“I first met Mark over a decade ago at a Men’s small group. I was fairly new to the Vineyard and had met only a handful of people and he was one of the them that comfortably welcomed me into the church family. After that group disbanded I followed him when he started his own group where we strengthened our friendship . That’s how I see Mark then and up to the present, always  engaging, affable, honest and about his life and his own struggles and concerned for mine, and others and  there ready to lend some wisdom and to pray. I saw this time and again how he interacted with people near him, friends, family or strangers, a sincere concern for their well being and how he could help. Many times he would  guide me in the right direction when I was struggling and  he always pointed me back to Christ. One fond memory I have was of several years back when he walked over to my home in a cold November morn to set me up with my own artist website, offering to help manage it and asking very little in return, I was awestruck. I found in Mark not only a brother in Christ or a kindred spirit in the arts but a friend, one who was there with a big loving heart.  He has left a profound impression on me. I will miss him.”
—Michael Oglesbee

“Mark’s heart was so genuine, so full of compassion for the less fortunate. I would see him in a situation where his heart was caring for others and I would think, ‘That’s how you love people’. He certainly left a mark on my heart.”
—Dean Estes

“Mark believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dreams, no matter how unattainable or crazy they were. When I objected, he looked at me and said, ‘Everything looks less scary when it’s covered in google-y eyes’ -then he proceeded to give me a box of them as a going-away present for college. He told me to put the google-y eyes onto anything that scared me. I’ll never forget that. Mark was a visible example of living a life full of laughter, loving yourself and others, and most importantly, embracing every God-given moment on this earth. He lived well, and I will miss him and always cherish the short time we were blessed to have with him.”
—Alyee Willets

The “New Eyes” Exhibit, Artworks of Mark Kessler, is on display at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Boise through January 11, 2015. Hours: Tue-Fri 9-5 & Sun 8-1.

One thought on “He Loved Through Art: Esau ‘Mark’ Kessler

  1. If asked, what greater words could you use when describing a man than that he loved. If we’re honest, that isn’t how we would best describe very many people. Esau LOVED. We all love at times but Mark lived it and shared it freely and generously whether he knew you or not. You couldn’t know Mark, even if only for a short time, without being blessed by something he did or said and I know in my heart that anyone reading this who was lucky enough to know him has a memory of a time when he touched them.

    I have several of those memories but the last time I saw Mark I was with my mom, who has metastatic bone cancer, at the Cancer Care Center. I’m not sure why he was there that day but I had spoken to my mom about him and Vineyard Boise and I was thrilled to get to introduce her to him. I will never forget that chance meeting – the way he lifted my mom’s spirits and the love she felt from just a short visit. I knew he was fighting a great battle but my mom didn’t. I gave Mark a hug and thanked him and as we said goodbye, there was an unspoken recognition that those few minutes were very special for my mom. It’s who he was.

    As I wheeled her toward the exit, my mom was gushing about Mark and how wonderful it was that he would come to the hospital and give his own time to cheer up terminal cancer patients. She praised Vineyard Boise as well, thinking it was part of a church ministry. When I explained to her that Mark was sick, too, and his battle with cancer might be further along than hers, she got emotional and we prayed for him all the way home. She felt a bond with Mark from that day forward, although I’m sad to say she never got to tell him, but she added him to her prayer list and the impact he had on her that day was similar in some small way to the impact he had on so many others.

    Esau ‘Mark’ Kessler loved. I can say that in truth with deep conviction but more importantly, I say it with a greateful heart. God bless you, Mark, and thank you…

    — Jay McCall