It’s been three years since a near-fatal biking accident put Palos Verdes resident and renowned international artist Steve Shriver in the ICU.
In 2016, Shriver was struck by a car in Malibu after a cycling group’s 100-mile ride. The car knocked him onto the roadway. A second car ran over him.
Extensive injuries put his career on hold, but now Shriver is offering his first exhibition since the accident. His show, Dolla Days, opens at South Bay Contemporary gallery in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 25.
“I was happy to learn that I still could draw and make art," said Shriver. "And the experience has given me much to think and make art about.
Shriver is known best for his large, Renaissance-style murals and ornamental technique of framing. He has murals in cities such as Moscow, Las Vegas and San Pedro. In Hermosa Beach, his mural depicting the evolution of swimwear graces the wall at 500 Pier Ave.
The local artist's new paintings reflect how life changed following the accident and the lengthy process of undergoing surgery and treatment for brain damage, punctured organs and broken bones.
Shriver's work has been informed by the tragedy:
- “No Contest” features a skull and a rose, both facing the grill of an elaborate automobile, with the words “Nolo Contendre” written around the gold circumference
- “Fortuna Es Caeca (Fortune is Blind”) offers a gorgeous series of golden images along the framework of a bike, a field of poppies beneath them. The images include winged women and a skull.
- “Eye to Eye” is a detailed, haunting portrait of the artist facing a skull: an evocative image of life looking hard into the face of death.
Shriver said his recuperation gave him a new theme: dying and its revelations.
He said he realized "life is finite and death is eternal."
"I came up with a thought that art has two worthwhile themes: love and death: eternal and finite. In some ways, the central image is more about the eternal, while the borders are more about the finite.”
Show curator and friend Peggy Zask credits art as a salve for Shriver.
“He slowly started to draw in the beginning of his healing, and surprised himself at how easily his drawing ability came back," said Zask, who witnessed his recovery.
Zask describes Shriver's new works as reflective, the creative aftermath of his experience.
“He interweaves human figures, bones and skulls with elements from car and bike parts, often in symmetrical compositions with ornamental style. As witness to his healing process, I am certain that art-making was key to his miraculous recovery.”
Shriver has long focused on ornamental art, according to Zask. And Shriver himself said framing has always been an important element.
“I often have spent as much or more time creating the frame than the central image," said Shriver. "Ideas that have come to mind while painting the central image have found expression and reinforcement in the surrounding imagery.”
And, his recovery made him appreciate the company of loved ones.
“I realized in my recovery that all I really need is the company of those I love," said Shriver, adding that it doesn’t really matter what we’re doing, as long as people we love are surrounding us.
Artist Candice Gawne, known for work with neon sculptures, will exhibit her encaustic painting at SoLA Gallery at the same time.
South Bay Contemporary – SoLA Gallery is a nonprofit devoted to bridging the gap between the Los Angeles art world and that of the South Bay. It is located at 3718 West Slauson Ave. in Los Angeles.
The Shriver and Gawne exhibits open May 25, with a reception from 4 to 7 p.m. The exhibitions run through June 22.