Local Artist: Kevin Lawrence Leveque
By Nikki Alston | 1/09/2015
May 2013, I moved into a small house on 5th St. with my 2 fur-babies. As a single, young woman, living alone in the “hood” part of town made me nervous. But my worries would soon be put to rest by my next door neighbors, local artist Kevin Leveque and his wife Pat Bordelon. Although I have since moved to a different part of town, I still consider them to be some of my closest friends and confidants. I would sit and listen to him talk about his life and thoughts for hours on end; discussing anything from philosophy and religion, to world news.
Kevin Leveque is one of the most interesting and quirky individuals I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. He is a short, thin man, with unruly-graying hair, deep smile lines on his forehead and cheeks, and a bulbous nose. The only time his clothes come close to matching is when he goes to church, which is every Sunday. His life has been full of adventures; from his hippie days avoiding the Vietnam War draft, to traveling all over the world and U.S. He decided to settle down in his home town of Lake Charles on August 3, 1995; where he lives to paint. “Coming back here connected me with an understanding of my aesthetics, my values, my understanding of what is beautiful. All I paint is beauty,” he says.
Though he doesn't leave his home much, I don’t believe Kevin has ever met a stranger in his life. His enthusiasm, creativity, and childlike wonder is contagious. One afternoon I came over to find his young grand-kids playing the piano and bongos, while Kevin played a tune on his Clarinet, unaware of the crashing and banging of the childrens' play. To him, all the different instruments playing different songs was music to his ears. This scene was not an unusual one being he can feed off any energy and drift with it. “'I find beauty in the most ordinary things and find magic in the often overlooked details. The world around me defines who I am as an artist. I am constantly inspired by the beauty of creation, giving me an insatiable urge to paint. Places evoke memories. Sounds and smells unlock doors to forgotten places. The textures of nature touch the soul and awaken feelings and thoughts that fill our lives with meaning,” Kevin says.
His whole life, Kevin has had a pencil in his hand. After high school, Kevin was granted a full scholarship to one of the most prestigious art schools in the country, Art Center College of Design of Los Angeles. By the age of 24, Kevin had established his professional career as an illustrator and graphic designer and establishing his own advertising agencies in London, New Orleans, and Santa Fe. He has worked on commissions for national magazines, record albums, local newspapers, and private businesses. Kevin has been referred to as a “modern-day Monet” and has recently been compared to Maxfield Parrish by an art critic in New Orleans. Currently, his work can be seen in collections around the world, including Africa, Europe, Australia, Singapore, and the United States.
When talking about the art world today, Kevin says he doesn’t really fit in. He says he has discovered that Lake Charles is the perfect place to paint. Many people would associate Kevin Leveque with the impressionists, but he takes that a step further. “I’ve included and morphed a lot of Impressionist ideas into a different direction. I’m actually a Post Romanticist”. Romanticism is the love of life. All his paintings are a celebration of creation. As a small child, laying on the floor of his room, he remembers thinking, “I wonder what I should draw today?" A voice clear as day answered him, “Everything that is beautiful”. Even today, he follows that voice, painting everything that is beautiful.
All of Kevin’s paintings tell a story. Kevin’s background in illustration has allowed him to create a strong sense of place and understanding. “My paintings are all single space realities... I’m often tempted to paint the simplest things like a City of Lake Charles garbage can. It can be in a beautiful morning light with a nice tilt. I could see that as a successful painting. I’m surrounded by a wealth of directions”.
Kevin’s art has evolved over the years from landscapes to figurative art. His paintings aren’t of just things or people, he captures a spectrum of feelings in a single piece of art. “I don’t paint the same thing over and over. I change subject and technique with every painting. I don’t keep with a certain formula except that I am working exclusively in oils on panel and that is only to streamline very cumbersome decisions an artist has to make; what size should this be, should I use acrylics..”, Kevin uses a specific formula for the scale and dimensions of his paintings. “It’s all highly mathematical”, Kevin says, citing an equilateral triangle as his starting point. “People don’t know it but a lot of mathematics go into where things are placed in a painting.” Even though a lot of structure goes into each piece or art he creates, lots of things happen in his paintings he calls ‘lucky accidents’. Kevin says he is “keyed toward not having a strong definition of what I’m doing. I let it evolve. I love to have a painting that just evolves naturally. Different things can take importance that I hadn’t intended”.
Although Kevin’s art still goes generally unrecognized and underappreciated, his work is on display in professional offices around town and in exhibits across the state. To me, the best showcase of his work is his home. His paintings hang on every wall, paying homage to his life’s experiences and divine gift for art. If asked to pick my favorite piece of his I would say his painting titled ‘Nikki’, which Pat and Kevin named after me, or his painting ‘Releve’ featuring a mix of pinks, purples, and blues enrapturing the viewer.
Kevin often speaks about his strong connection with the Holy Spirit specifying art should be a mystical thing involving the soul. “I don’t express myself, I express things greater than myself when I paint. I am amazed at how charged up I am to paint, how enthused I am to paint. These things I cherish because I don’t own inspiration or creativity. It’s a grace given. I don’t own enthusiasm, really, I don’t own focused enthusiasm. I do have will, desire to do something, and I own that. Everything that I do depends on the Holy Spirit. In fact, I’m amazed that I can paint as well as I do! I amaze myself!"
Anytime, day or night, you can see a light on in his studio outside his home. He may be painting, playing an instrument, or just sitting enjoying the outdoors. No matter the temperature, he seldom leaves his studio. Kevin Lawrence Leveque has traveled every inch of this city before big industry and casinos came to town. He knows the rich history of Lake Charles and his art highlights it. Every painting has its place and to Kevin it’s not in a fancy gallery, it’s in a home or office to be appreciated where the owner feels a connection to the piece.
To view Kevin Leveque’s work, you can visit www.kevinleveque.com
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