Schaefer Portrait Challenge II (2006)
Marco Eskaran, Pillar of Strength
One of 43 portraits selected from across the state for the Second Schaefer Portrait Challenge in January, 2006.
"Marco Eskaran, Pillar of Strength"
On Lana’i, community respect isn’t bestowed as a privilege of one’s education or profession; it is earned through dedication to the residents of the island. It is an honor to paint Marco Eskaran, a man whose work ethic and community service are legendary on Lana’i.
Before starting the portrait, I was well aware of some of Marco’s volunteer activities--he is a perennial leader in fund-raising for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life on Lana'i and he’s opened his door to 300 children each holiday season as the island Santa for the past 30 years. But it is the cause he embraced while dealing with personal tragedy and major health issues that served as the basis for this painting.
After the sudden death of his son 4 years ago, Marco began tending to neglected gravesites near his son’s in the community cemetery. In typical “Marco fashion,” what started with just a few graves has expanded in number so he now single-handedly cares for the entire cemetery as an unpaid volunteer.
In this portrait, I have tried to show a man of quiet dignity; one who hasn’t been slowed by recent bouts with cancer and heart bypass surgery (I’ve subtly indicated the bypass scar on his chest). What occurred to me as I talked with Marco between painting sessions is that he has the spirit of a warrior—fearless, strong, and noble. Midway through the painting I decided to alter the position of his arms and rake to make it appear that he was ready to protect the community he loves so dearly.
As Marco’s physical bearing at age 70 is remarkable for someone half his age, and because of the good he has done for Lana’i while weathering storms of adversity, I’ve titled this painting “Marco Eskaran, Pillar of Strength”.
Photo Caption: Marco Eskaran and his wife, Ah Moi, with portrait "Marco Eskaran, Pillar of Strength". Shaefer Portrait Challenge 2006, Maui Arts & Cultural Center.