Stanley Bishop, a studio tour artist whose Spacepost Laboratories has been a part of the Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction for the past couple of years, walked through the doors of the Clinic six years ago after suffering for years with the effects of a neck injury he received in a serious mountaineering accident.
He saw Dr. Myles Spar, who founded the Clinic’s Integrative Medicine program that helps patients manage their chronic pain.
“I was scared. I hadn’t had health care in two years,” Bishop said. “Dr. Spar took me seriously. He performed all the diagnostic work, because I didn’t have good medical records to share. I wouldn’t have gotten back on my feet if I hadn’t had that piece of good luck at Venice Family Clinic.”
A personal journey
Bishop was a graduate student studying physics when he first started having problems from carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as anxiety attacks from stress. So he took some time off from school – and that’s when he had the accident that left him with a C3 vertebrae injury and without the use of his legs for a time. Even though his injury eventually healed, he was left with debilitating pain. The doctor he saw prescribed a high dose of pain killers to manage his symptoms, but that medication caused other problems, including debilitating seizures, which prevented him from accepting a position with a prominent tech company.
That’s when he found Spar, who determined the dosage Bishop had been given was three times too high, which explained why he didn’t feel the pain normally associated with the celiac disease that was ravaging his body. After providing this diagnosis, Spar put Bishop on a gluten-free diet that helped him get back up to a healthier weight. Spar also adjusted the dosage on Bishop’s medication and gave him referrals to physical therapy and acupuncture, which got him his mobility back. Less than a year later, Bishop was able to stop taking the pain killers altogether and credits the Clinic’s Integrative Medicine program for putting him on a path to wellness that has lasted years after he first received treatment.
“I was using a cane and wheelchair to get around. I thought I was dying,” Bishop said. “Dr. Spar exposed me to acupuncture, a practice I continued for years that felt like it did a lot to contribute to my recovery outside of just pain management. He treated me like it was important that I get better – and having been sick without access to health care for a long time – that was a fairly transformative experience in itself.”
Healthy once again, today Bishop is head of research for an artificial intelligence firm. But Spacepost is where his passion lies. Spacepost uses technology such as virtual and augmented reality to enhance experiences with fine arts and STEAM education. Located within the Budman Studio in Venice, owned by prolific art collector and supporter Jim Budman, Spacepost and the studio have been on the Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction tour circuit multiple times. Two years ago for Venice Art Walk, Spacepost worked with 10 local artists to show augmented reality versions of their work, and last year the company showcased a series of sound-activated projection mapping exhibits that attendees could “play” using musical instruments.
“Art is a sign of a healthy community,” Bishop said. “Art is one of the higher callings and one that people get to focus on when their basic needs are taken care of. You see a lot of joyful art when people are healthy, physically and mentally.”
And now that he’s healthy again, Bishop is doing his part to support local artists and the community alike.
“I found the most supportive community I ever wanted to be a part of, at a time when my neurology was so messed up that people felt uncomfortable around me,” he said. “If I wasn’t for a community like Venice, I don’t think I would have been able to reconnect and recover.”