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Local artist's 'Art Walk & Find' paintings bringing neighbors together

A local artist in St. Pete’s Arcadia Gardens asked neighbors on Nextdoor if she could paint something on their property-- now other neighborhoods want in.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Vanessa Levesque says she’s been an artist all her life, but the coronavirus pandemic allowed her artist's eye to see something no one else could.

“This is at people’s houses and it’s little, tiny pieces of art. If you want to, you can see it. If you don’t, you’ll probably just walk right on by it,” she said.

Levesque started an “art walk and find.” She paints murals on anything permanent, with your permission. 

“You do need a community to support it and to give you a place to paint,” she said.

It started 4 years ago. She painted some rocks and hid those. One day she found a fallen brick, painted it with a gnome and cemented it back into the wall.

“It was just an aha! kind of moment. No one’s going to take it and everybody can see it,” Levesque said.

Amid a pandemic, the idea grew.  

She posted on Nextdoor asking neighbors if they wanted a free mural and then sharing where others could find the artwork.

“That’s the really cool part because I didn’t tell them what I was going to paint. [They said], hey, 'take your paintbrush and your paints and paint and we're fine with it.' And that's been really cool," she said.

The murals range from inches in size to several feet. Regardless of size, each takes about two hours for her to complete.  

So far Levesque has painted insects, lizards, a fish in a bowl popping up on a porch, birds on siding and a nearly 3-foot-long alligator sunning on a sidewalk. 

“I have three young kids, so it gets me out of the house even if it’s just for two hours and I love to paint, and I really enjoy it. It’s therapeutic. My husband and I had to close our business, so I can sit here and be really upset, or I can go outside and do something I love and that’s what I chose to do,” she said.

There are 12 murals throughout the Arcadia Gardens neighborhood, and she has plans to add more. Levesque says neighbors from other areas of St. Petersburg have also asked her to paint something for them and she says she will. 

“The people who have had the stuff painted on their houses like it as well, because they’ve said that they’ve gotten to meet different neighbors that are coming by their house to check out their artwork," Levesque said.

If you would like Vanessa to add a small mural to your home, send her a message through her Little Art Walk Facebook page

This story was inspired by a local resident who let 10News reporter Courtney Robinson know about the awesome things happening in their neighborhood on Nextdoor. She’s looking to share the positive stories of neighbors helping neighbors. Click here to see and comment on Courtney’s Nextdoor posts.

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