The Lady Who Made It Happen

Arthur Norby

SunBird Golf Resort resident Irene Coatta, the founding member of the SunBird Art Club, will be receiving special recognition from the SunBird Art Club on Feb. 10 at the club’s annual show.

She prefers to be addressed as Irene, reminding her friends that Coatta just happened to be the name of her fourth husband. Born in Auburn, Wash., to farm parents in 1932, Irene moved to SunBird in 1990 and organized the SunBird Art Club in 1993. Although a monumental achievement in itself, it says little of Irene’s life and career.

As a young woman, she studied art in Germany for two years and has taught art in several Arizona communities, including Mesa, Gilbert, and Chandler. Irene’s formal training included San Jose State and Foothills College (both in California) and the University of Colorado before spending years and getting her degree at Herzbaden School of Art in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1976.

Irene’s commissioned works include two gigantic 2006 murals in Mazatlán, Mexico, one of which was 30 feet long and kept her on scaffolding 30 feet in the air. In 2007 she had to wear a respirator while on a scaffold, painting 18 windows in the Catholic Church of Harlowton, Mont.

Now 92 years of age, Irene continues to paint nearly every day, and her newest 48″x60″ oil painting of an Arizona sunset will be displayed at the Feb. 10 SunBird Art Club show.