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San Francisco artist to host ‘I Didn’t Die Party’ after near-fatal crash

The San Francisco artist Paul Madonna sits in his studio. | Courtesy Paul Madonna/Tri Nguyen

Fans of Paul Madonna’s work all seem to know him for something different. To some, he’s famous for his “All Over Coffee” art strip series that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years. To others, he’s best known for his drawings that illustrate everything from Gary Kamiya’s local history-focused books to Anchor Steam beer. To still others, he’s notable for his Emit Hopper mystery novels. 

A Paul Madonna illustration of the Golden Gate Bridge appears in his book The Commissions. | Source: Courtesy Paul Madonna

Yet all of this creative productivity almost came to a halt when Madonna had a near-fatal car crash last November near McClaren Park. 

“Someone was doing 65 mph uphill in my lane,” Madonna said. “I saw two headlights, and then I was unconscious.” 

The artist’s car was thrown 60 feet, and he nearly died on the scene, according to Madonna. Multiple hospital stays and surgeries later, he began inching his way to recovery. Now fully healed, he’s ready to party. 

At an event billed as the “I Didn’t Die Party,” Madonna will celebrate his recovery and launch his latest book, The Commissions, a project that he says was essential to his survival after the accident. 

“My getting it done was the rope I used to pull myself out of the darkness,” he said. 

The inside jacket of Paul Madonna's book The Commissions is pictured spread out beneath the book. | Source: Courtesy Paul Madonna

Madonna made it clear the book wasn’t about his survival of the hit-and-run collision, since the book’s content was nearly complete before the accident happened. But finishing the significant labor of the book’s final edit was a kind of emotional physical therapy, the author said. 

The book launch at Ritual coffee shop in the Mission on Sept. 15 will include an exhibition of 20 pieces of Madonna’s art, music and wine. 

“Cafes are the best place to have an exhibition,” Madonna said. “Because you get thousands of people who see the work.” 

For Madonna, who completed his book from a hospital bed that was moved into his house, the celebration is likely to be extra-festive. 

“I’m so fired up,” he said. 

'The Commissions' Book Launch, Art Exhibit and 'I Didn’t Die Party' 

🗓️ Sept. 15 | 7 to 9:30 p.m. 
📍Ritual Cafe, 1026 Valencia St. 
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