Life made up of unique turn of events

Published 1:13 pm Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mark Leopin, who grew up on Long Island, NY, sold his first painting at the age of 5 to his neighbor Mrs. Blydenburgh for $5.

A self-taught painter, Mark says “Living near the water during my childhood has continued to influence the scenes I paint from memory today.”

Leopin has an interesting story.

Moshe’s Fine Arts, his CPA business and art gallery opened in 2006, has recently relocated to the 1953 Old Town Hall building. When I commented on the seemingly unlikely combination, Mark explained, “My dad was a CPA for 53 years and from age 12 on, I worked with him. At 16, he began teaching me the tax business and later, I also earned a college degree.”

Mark’s grandfather was a first-generation American settling in Brooklyn and a brass and coppersmith artisan.

Thus, born into an Orthodox Jewish family, Mark says he never heard of Jesus until he was 13 and given a Bible by his Aunt Emma. Mark cites a defining moment of his adult life on 8/8/88 in Tuscaloosa where he was attending a crusade.

“I had been wrestling with the Lord for months, but here the Holy Spirit hit me, insisting that I make a decision at that moment,” Mark said. “When I accepted, the Holy Spirit entered me and I knew I was born again.”

That, Mark believes, was the second time he was given new life, as he related a near-death experience from 1984.

“I was fishing alone in the Alpine Lakes in Cheyenne, Wyom., and my waders filled when the rock I was standing on shifted. I was pulled under the ice-cold water. I felt no sense of fear,” Mark said. “only peace and calm and total joy. Then I felt the force of God’s arms or angels pulling me to the surface. A small voice told me to take off my wet clothes and dry them in the sun. Meanwhile, I lay on the bank in the snow and when my clothes dried, I put them on and went back to fishing.”

Mark has traveled to Jerusalem and prayed at the Wailing Wall and he spent three years ministering weekly to prisoners by accompanying himself on the guitar to lyrics he said he hears from the voice of God. He has recorded these inspired songs on two CDs, which are available in his shop.

Moshe’s Fine Arts offers an eclectic selection of art, decor and jewelry. My eye went to an unusual pair of scenic paintings on glass that are enclosed in antique oval frames and a series of pre-1950 fishing lures that are encased in shadowboxes and presented as objets d’arte.