ART and ANIMAL RIGHTS
An Engaging Combination for STEVE ADAM
written by Liz Goldner
photographed by Tom Lamb
You might see him any afternoon greeting customers in his sliver gallery in Laguna Beach on Pacific Coast Highway. You might assume that he’s a long-time local artist, capturing in his work the scenes and light that are a luxury of living and commuting along the coast in Laguna Beach.
But talk to Steve Adam and you’ll find out that he grew up on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, that as a child he spent long hours on the bayous fishing with his dad, who owned a seafood processing plant. He’ll relate stories of traveling up and down the coast from New Orleans to Biloxi to the Florida Keys, enjoying the sunrises and the moon reflected in the water.
Adam also talks passionately about animal rights activism, about his work to expose what he calls “the horrors of poaching elephants and rhinos in South Africa.” He looks back to his early life experiences, growing up in nature with a compassionate father and learning about personal independence and problem-solving, as a foundation for his activism. Deciding to use art to help combat large animal poaching, he established his “365 Art for Wildlife” foundation, explaining, “As an artist, I’m at a point where I can give back.”
Adam says that Africa and its people are under siege by criminal organizations and poachers hired to kill its wildlife. He explains that several countries promote the purchase of ivory trinkets made from elephant tusks, and thereby endorse the slaughter of these animals. He adds that rhino horns do not promote youth or fertility and do not cure illness (which many people continue to believe), and that trophy hunting is not conservation but instead a status symbol sport for elitists.
Adam supports a variety of anti-poaching organizations by donating a percentage of sales from his gallery, giving of his time and creating social awareness. He also involves the local surfing community with his cause by selling raffle tickets for his canvases and painted surfboards, asking for direct donations, and giving the proceeds to these organizations. Adam also promotes the cause on his gallery website, on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #365art4wildlife. Adam is currently running a campaign with Pedaling Against Poaching for the non-profit Helping Rhinos. You can learn more about the organizations he works with by visiting steveadamgallery.com/pages/365-art-for-wildlife.
Adam moved to Orange County in 1983 and soon began working in construction for major OC builders, working in homes along the oceanfront cliffs overlooking the Pacific. He learned about texture as well as color palettes that take their cue from the sand, sea, and sky outside. It also exposed him to the aesthetics of interior design and to art as a function of tasteful home décor in a county known for its casual sophistication. In fact, his hands-on experiences with plaster and paint served as artistic training for the self-taught painter.
Adam began experimenting with his own artwork, painting on furniture, surfboards and wood panels. Calling his style “coastal modern abstract,” he employs primary colors, particularly blue, which he describes as the color of hope. Combining minimal, abstract and expressive styles, his work captures the look, smells and sounds of life near the ocean.
Soon, collectors, architects and interior designers—some of whom Adam had worked with in his construction and finishing work—began purchasing his paintings. With little promotion, many others discovered his art. To date, he has sold more than 1,000 original paintings, along with prints and painted surfboards, to private collectors, interior designers, hotels and resorts, from Laguna Beach to Manhattan, the UK and Dubai.
From his humble beginnings in the bayous, Steve Adam has evolved into a significant artist, while his animal rights activism gives him a greater sense of mission. One of his favorite quotations, from early twentieth century writer/naturalist Henry Beston, reads, in part: “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals … We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves.”
Combining minimal, abstract and expressive styles, his work captures the look, smells and sounds of life near the ocean.