Elaine G. Coffee

Written by Dolores Tropiano Category: Arts Issue: January 2014
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“Chillin’ at Charlie’s” by Elaine G. Coffee, Photo Courtesy Elaine G. Coffee


Foodies flinging forks at Razz’s Restaurant in Scottsdale might not strike most artists as a muse-moment. But it’s gold for Cave Creek painter Elaine Grant Coffee, whose contemporary genre portraits are inspired by such unstaged public interactions. Her slice-of-life scenes can happen almost anywhere, from a bench at the Arizona Biltmore to a cowboy bar in Bisbee.

“Polo Match” showcases people at WestWorld of Scottsdale, and “High Stakes at the Flea Market” takes place at a park in Paris. The aforementioned scene at Razz’s inspired “The Chef Recommends.” Coffee discovered her Rockwellian approach to art while wandering through New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Instead of looking at the art, I found myself looking at the people and how they communicated with the paintings and each other, and that was the beginning,” Coffee says.

Her oil paintings have an appealing imperfection about them. They are not purposefully and perfectly posed portraits. “The paintings capture a narrative of a moment in time,” she says.

Coffee, 72, was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and started painting as a young girl alongside her artist mother. She attended The School of Visual Arts in New York and took medical illustration classes at Hunter College. All combined to help her create accurate anatomies of the people she portrays.

Check out Coffee’s paintings now through March 23 at the Celebration of Fine Art on the southwest corner of Hayden Road and the Loop 101 in Scottsdale, or at elainecoffee.com.