Painting a new life

Ron LaFevers

PHOTO BY vic cantu

Everybody loves a good life comeback story. Ron LaFevers, 52, has an astounding one. After 20 years of drug addiction, LaFevers suffered a major heart attack in 2003, which stopped his heart for five minutes and sent him into a coma. While healing, he took painting classes at Butte College and found his life’s passion. Portrait painting replaced his addiction and he soon regained his energy for life. He’s been in recovery for 12 years and has sold approximately 75 paintings—at prices ranging from $200 to $1,200 each. He’s also a co-owner of Main Street Pizzeria and Café, and drives a taxi, and fire-dances with the local Lumininjas troupe. Find “Ron’s Art” on Facebook or at the pizza parlor, 331 Main St.

Why painting?

I was just good right off the bat. Two weeks after I started classes my inspirational teacher, Simone Senat, was impressed and invited me to the advanced class. I felt an incredible and fantastic drive to get better and better. I won Chico’s Erotic Art Show and a Butte College art show. I’ve been displayed at the Rolling Hills Casino, The Naked Lounge, Monks Wine [Lounge], Lost on Main and Has Beans.

How would you describe your style?

It’s realistic portraits of clothed and semi-nude women. My models are usually lady friends.

How did you get involved with Main Street Pizzeria?

I’d been working there for 18 years and last spring saw the owner wasn’t keeping it up. I didn’t want it to die like other Chico businesses, so a couple of partners and myself took it over. We upgraded the recipes to make it the best in town and remodeled the interior like an upscale bistro.

And the fire-dancing?

I did it to overcome my shyness in front of crowds and to be the best in the world. I use flaming numchucks, which are two, foot-long wooden sticks attached by a short chain. I perform with the Lumininjas at places like Keep Chico Weird and the Chico Women’s Club.

And you also drive a taxi?

Yes, I drive Chico City Taxi 48 hours a week. I like to say I’m saving lives because I feed the hungry pizza and drive them home when they’re drunk.

How do you stay in shape?

I eat right and exercise with my numchucks two hours a day. I try to get my heart rate up to 140 for several minutes a day.

What lessons have you learned from recovery?

After my heart attack and recovery I was able to have a closer relationship with my two grown kids. Painting saved my life because it gave me a purpose and let me know I was good at something. I also want to help upcoming artists and invite them to display at Main Street Pizzeria. Everybody should do something productive. Dance on the street corner if you have to.

What’s next?

We hope to have pizza deliveries soon and a pizza booth at the Thursday Night Market.