Mr. Steven Stephenie Coachman (1951-2018)
Mr. Coachman, “Mister Coachman” as he recently wrote, and Steve to many, was an artist and a beloved member of Community Access. He called Gouverneur Court his home for over 20 years, was a dedicated Art Collective member, proud participant in the NYC Mural Arts Project at Davidson Ave., and an inaugural member of the Community Access Urban Agriculture Foodies and Growers.
With his epic laugh, radiant smile, and dapper sense of style, Mr. Coachman had immense presence. “Hello beautiful people!” he'd announce as he entered the Art Collective studio, carrying his bag of book binding supplies and dressed in a suit jacket, brightly colored sneakers, shirt, and jeans smeared with acrylic paint, which he wore with pride. No matter the occasion, Mr. Coachman inevitably arrived wearing a look few could pull off at all, much less with such grace and swag. In fact, he may be the only person to ever shovel compost on Governor’s Island while wearing a three-piece suit.
“Infused by the glory of it all, I quickly engaged myself with the tools of the artistic endeavor,” Mr. Coachman was honored to be named “Earthman Creative Artist of 1986” by the Lower Eastside Service Center. He credited the now former director of the Community Access Art Collective, book artist Suzanne Coley, with “setting the patterns of my life for making art daily.” He was impressed by the role book artists played in the “continuation of the social character of our nation, along with education, religion and world history as well as science; I became excited enough to entertain myself unto this day with Book Arts primarily as a means to relate my ideas to others.”
Mr. Coachman set goals and was committed to achieving them. Ms. Coley, for example, originally challenged him to make 100 books in order to advance his skills. He'd made more than 300 by June 2018. They are wondrous, amazing hand-bound and accordion books. Many include his reflections on the American character and his personal experiences and beliefs, featuring titles such as “And We hope for : Freedom, Justice & Equality__ that’s just Fine” and “After we have given praise_____”.
He explored all art mediums and held a special fascination for paper marbling about which he exclaimed, “That’s fantastic!” Learning new things was something he never stopped doing: He was unceasingly curious, always wanting to know more, ponder it further, and archive this growing knowledge in his “Book of Life,” a cumulative collection of images, readings, notes and thoughts that encapsulated his days.
He will be dearly missed.
To read some of his writings, visit his Tumblr at https://myself-earthman-creative-artist.tumblr.com/
Please visit our Instagram account @artcollectivenyc and search #mrcoachman
"The knowledge and wisdom of art brings about a change in my life, to go from idea to idea like nerves work along the body. They begin in the brainstem and spread all through my existence until I have an action and reaction and recorded sequence." - Steven S. Coachman