By Brian Nowak
Stephen Coppola is an retired steelworker, Veteran of Vietnam, and a painter. He began teaching himself how to paint in 2009. Now a days, he’s painting two to three hours a day. Coppola has a unique style, laying his canvas on a flat surface, working over it, as opposed to putting the canvas upright. These days Coppola paints daily in his basement, but he used to paint in a studio outside in his garage.
Coppola’s recent paintings are portraits of vacant buildings all over Buffalo. He has ten paintings from the East Side, West Side, Riverside, and Black Rock that are prepared to be included in a show.
One of his first paintings was inspired by President George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Coppola said Bush was lying about active weapons of mass destruction in the country. “I knew the war in Iraq was based on a lie. You have to understand, I was in Vietnam and that war was based on a lie.”
Coppola has been producing paintings inspired by his political views ever since. The first painting he sold was a crying American flag. “He views it as a symbol of children suffering all over the middle east because of this [war].”
Early on, Coppola painted abstract works and had it on display at different areas in the city. When he had shows, he would be asked the meaning and intention behind his work, “All I intended was for you to enjoy it. What you get out of it is what you get out of it.” Following his experience with demonstrating his abstract work, he began painting buffalo buildings. Coppola has his renditions of Romeo and Juliet’s and 1231 restaurants on display at their locations.
In 2012, Coppola completed his first painting inspired by the horrors of war called “the children of war.” In December of 2015, he began a series of paintings inspired by the civil war in Syria, specifically Aleppo, based on actual pictures of the violence from Aleppo. Coppola said, “The only difference is I paint them in my style.”
The paintings include a number of people impacted by war, each painting with fewer and fewer people. “People don’t understand what war does, especially the war that constantly goes on and on,” Coppola said. “The innocent always suffer the most, there are just no two ways about it.”
Right now, Coppola is working to have his painting hung in a Buffalo art studio for public viewing. His goal is to have the whole series of Syria-inspired paintings hanging on one wall.
Coppola keeps on painting, no matter where his work is displayed or who is buying it. For him, it’s all about the joy of the process, and the virtue of his personal truths.
Stephen Coppola was born and raised on the west side of Buffalo NY in the 1950’s. Since Vietnam and the end of his steel-working career, Stephen has been painting for the past 8 years.