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05. Coffee Break (48" x 54" x12") $12,000

05. Coffee Break (48" x 54" x12") $12,000

Macey Center, Socorro, NM

"The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

'coffee break' -
A short break from work during which coffee or other refreshments may be consumed.

This piece celebrates hospitality, the warmth of a friendly smile, taking time for a break, and giving thanks. Coffee Break was inspired by a newspaper story about a woman named 'Gladys', over 70 years old, a waitress all her life, and still at it because she enjoyed it. (The complete article is posted on the side of the frame.) As the world speeds up, waitresses are rapidly being replaced by machines, time for reading magazines, visiting with friends, and giving thanks is becoming a scarce commodity.

This piece has many obvious symbolic references. A 'Time' magazine is folded under the coffee cup. The shirt front ruffles are a pattern made by a telephone cord and plastic forks. A skilled waitress (or waiter) is a master of communication, knowing when to listen, and how to respond. The plastic forks symbolize the fast food industry taking over the old cafes. Roses embroidered on the cheeks reflect a rosy attitude. The waitress is always cleaning up after someone, hence the paper towel holder belt.

Though the focus of the piece is the waitress, what is left on the counter gives lots of clues about the person she is (or was) serving. Shear pink fabric is used to make the lipstick details on the cup and the cigarette butts.

This was the first window box type piece. It started out as a flat wall hanging, but as the foreground grew thoughts about the dust that could collect made a frame imminent. Fanning out the sides and using mirrors gives more space for counter details and creates a greater sense of depth. If you stand to the side of the piece you see the waitress's profile, and it feels like you are on the stool next to the person being served. You can see yourself at the counter in the cafe mirror next in line.

world history-
Exactly where and when coffee was first cultivated is not known, but some authorities believe that it was grown initially near the Red Sea about ad. 675. In the 15th and 16th centuries, extensive planting of the coffee tree occurred in the Yemen region of Arabia. In 1714 the French brought a live cutting of a coffee tree to the island of Martinique. This single plant was the genesis of the great coffee plantations of Latin America.

Would one be as ready to drink chaoua, kauhi, or coffa as coffee? Most of these exotic early forms of our word reflect the fact that coffee, though a normal accompaniment to the life of many English speakers, was originally an exotic substance. Coffee came to Europe from the Middle East, where its name was qahveh, an Ottoman Turkish pronunciation of Arabic qahwah, the Turks having borrowed the word and the drink from the Arabs. The first three forms cited above show the influence of the Middle Eastern words for coffee. Our form coffee results from combining caffe, the Italian version of the Middle Eastern word, and the vowel of the Middle Eastern word, represented by o. Coffee is first recorded in English in 1601 with the spelling coffe.

Materials Used:
frame: Wood covered with red vinyl (outside), Plexiglas front.
ceiling: paper plates
glasses, vegetable twistees; lips, woven red plastic vegetable bag; fingernails, pink candy wrappers; blouse, plastic forks and telephone wire; elt, chrome plated paper towel holder; skirt, black vinyl place mat; ear rings. white plastic gambling chips.
coffee pot: clear plastic pie crust packaging.
toast: woven straw place mat.
spoon on coffee plate: aluminum beer can.
water glass: clear vinyl rug protector.
straw: white fabric with red machine stitched stripes.
salt and pepper jars: plastic bubble wrap packaging.
creamer: metal lath, silver fabric.
background window:
curtain; ironing board cover.
shade: yellow plastic strapping.
neon cafe sign: plastic bicycle spoke covers.
transformer box: black leather address book cover.
ash tray: clear plastic tubing.
embroidered fabric details: 'dollar' tip under plate, 'Time' magazine, 'Thank You' food receipt, sugar and sweetener packets, crumpled paper from straw and napkin, electric outlet on wall.
ketchup and mustard: red and yellow fabric.