Underneath the neutral color palette of work clothes, a brown button-up shirt and pants, Steve Levesque’s creative spirit peeks through in touches of color — a tie-dye undershirt and turquoise shoelaces.
Levesque, 54, of Kalispell, is a self-taught artist and custodian at Flathead High School.
His workday begins at 4 p.m. Levesque doesn’t mind the silence that fills the school once after-school activities are over and everyone has left for the day.
He uses that silence and the repetition of tasks such as sweeping to meditate and brainstorm ideas for his paintings.
When his shift ends at 12:30 a.m., Levesque goes home to his canine companion, Ondine, and usually paints for a few hours before bed.
“I’ve read books where your best creative time is at night,” Levesque said.
His artwork tends to be colorful. Even when he uses neutral tones there are pops of fluorescent pink, blue, green or yellow.
“I was always interested in really intense colors. I think it draws people in,” Levesque said.
Several of his acrylic paintings are on display at the high school. Some of the paintings feature intersecting geometric shapes, while others are more fluidly painted organic shapes.
Levesque grew up in Olney and attended Whitefish schools. Art was always part of his life. His parents, the late George and Margaret Levesque, collected art books, a pastime he continues to this day. As a young boy Levesque would pore over his father’s books on cubist Pablo Picasso and surrealist Salvador Dali.
“I imagined someday painting like that. I still have a ways to go,” Levesque said.
While friends played outside during the summer, he was indoors painting.
At 18, he moved to Reno, Nev., where lived for 17 years. During that time, he worked as a waiter at gourmet restaurants. He got into the music scene and attended his first concert with the Sex Pistols and Ramones as headliners.
The following year he delved into dancing, taking modern dance and ballet lessons for three years. Busy with work and other interests, he stopped painting at 22.
In 1992, he moved back to Montana to care for his ill mother.
“I was a patient person. I always knew that life would just follow me where it was supposed to,” Levesque said.
Three years ago he began experimenting with graffiti art and within a year picked up a paintbrush once again.
About a year ago he reached several milestones.
He sold his first painting and his cherished dog, Norma, died.
“I think tragedies lead you back again to those [creative] paths,” Levesque said.
He is inspired by people, architecture, dreams, his dogs and God. Sometimes he sketches out ideas, other times he just drops paint on canvas as a starting point in creating an image.
“I just try to leave it open, leave it to God,” Levesque said. “All good art comes only from God. When we’re inspired, our mind and God's mind pass each other.”
Levesque’s artwork is on display at Flathead High School Gallery 131 through Friday. The high school is located at 664 Fourth Ave. West.
Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.