A Portuguese Bend home opens its doors to local artists and potential buyers

Welcome to the annual Arty Party

  • Category
  • Written by
    Chris Ridges
  • Photographed by
    Monica Orozco

Built in 1931 as the Farmstead, architect Gordon Kaufmann’s seven-bedroom home for Frank Vanderlip’s lawyer E.D. Levinson remains one of Palos Verdes Peninsula’s most significant residences. Thoughtfully placed in Portuguese Bend, the estate is grand … amazingly grand. The sprawling, scenic grounds remain impressive long after one’s first visit.

For nearly 30 years Charles and Jean Shriver and their children, Steve and Sarah, have been hosting their holiday Portuguese Bend Arty Party there and showcasing nearby artists’ works at the same time. Purchased in 1984, the Shrivers’ heirloom-filled home—built in 19th-century Italianate style with column-flanked entrance, horse stall-lined courtyard, historical decorations and formal garden—is the place to be for local lovers of art (and procrastinating Christmas gift buyers).

Look closer to discover the charming and detailed touches that were originally designed and have been carefully retained and lovingly respected. Above one of the two office’s desks is a trap door leading to an attic used as a library for leather-bound books and archives. The four bathrooms still exhibit their original teal-blue tile. The home was used for location filming, including A Walk in the Clouds.

Steve and Sarah, accomplished artists themselves, answer some questions about their not-too-well-known traditional bazaar.

How did this get started? When was the first Arty Party?

Sarah: In the early ‘90s I began showing her sculpture, jewelry and beads in the living room and would sell to family friends. By the late ‘90s Steve had joined me, showing his paintings as an opportunity to expand his already prolific career. Other artists who joined their annual marketplace would eventually become known as the Portuguese Bend Artist Colony, including Dan and Victoria Pinkham, Alys Chalmers, Stephen Mirich, Margaret Missman and Thomas Redfield. Several of these self-named “Plein Air Warriors of Palos Verdes” still show at Arty Party every year. Steve has thought of becoming more of a curator at times since he knows so many artists far and wide, but he usually returns to the tradition of who’s shown before.

How does one show and sell at your event? There are around 25 artists and artisans every year, and their work is notably exceptional. How do they qualify?

Steve: The work must be self-made, and we prefer the artist live in the neighborhood or at least nearby. We’ve added ceramicists, jewelers, photographers, soap and scent makers, scarves, origami and foodies. Participants’ fees are used to help support event costs, including the banquet.

Yes, the food and wine. The feast you put together is a work of art in itself. It adds so much to the festivities—and of course everything’s delicious … all the while serenaded with live music.

Sarah: Steve’s wife, Marianne, and her cousin Annie assemble the spread in the courtyard for the guests and the artists. The last few years we’ve added more music while still using the same local sources as we do for the art.

You attract hundreds of guests every year; how do you accommodate everything and everyone?

Steve: It’s a lot of work to make it happen every year—with organization, cleanup before and after, and making sure everyone has space. It’s been worth it every time. The crowd has grown every year—never getting unmanageable but making parking a challenge (our kids have helped come up with solutions many times for that!) The times that it’s rained (fortunately very few) it’s been extra difficult. But we’re lucky we have an empty field next to the driveway that, when dry, works perfectly.

The Shrivers’ soiree is planned for December 16, 1 to 5 p.m.  |  Visit steveshriver.com to make inquiries.