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|Thinkers Coffeehouse Mural -detail 1
The Thinkers Coffeehouse mural is one of the highlights of John's career as a muralist. It is a star-studded extravaganza painted with the highest standards of academic painting. It was commissioned by Mr. Charles "Chuck" Diamond as the centrepiece of his dream coffeehouse in Cleveland's celebrated Playhouse Square. In everyway John's masterpiece surpassed even Chuck's most exalted aspirations.
The mural was painted on a series of canvas-covered panels in John's studio and took one year to complete. Miss Karyl Kniepper, John's friend and partner in several interior design commissions, also worked on the mural under John's guidance and supervision (notice John's portrait of Miss Kniepper in the 'Painting' section of this website).
The mural's composition is based on Leonardo da Vinci's 'the last supper' mural, with "guests" positioned around the table inside a salon with wood-coffer ceilings and walls covered in murals by Titian and other renaissance masters; floors of polished marble and a tablecloth of a beautiful Italian design. The attention to detail is simply astounding.
Two months of extensive research and preparation went into achieving the mural's final design. A list with hundreds of individuals was prepared by Mr. Diamond but the final selection was left to John. Coming up with a final list rivaled the casting legends of some of Hollywood's greatests films. As word got around suggestions kept coming on a daily basis.
In the end John established a selection process with the following criteria: the selected personalities had to have a Cleveland connection -by merit of their work having been presented at any of the theatres in Playhouse Square, or by having lived or visited the city of Cleveland at some time in their lives, and of course, the availability of suitable visual references.
The final selection included a hundred and twenty personalities; among these were Hollywood celebrities, historical figures, and ten of the coffeeshop's leading patrons -including Mr. Chuck Diamond. John decided not to include himself in the painting (he finally included his image on his later mural masterpiece -'The Mural History of the Puerto Rican People' seen also on the 'Murals' page).
Represented on the above mural detail are Shirley MacLaine, Niccolò Piccinni, Enrico Caruso, Martha Graham, Maria Callas, Martin Luther King, Mozart, Abraham Lincoln, Eugene O’Neill, a young Frank Sinatra, Bruce Felder -a Cleveland developer and one of the mural's patrons (he asked to be portrayed as a 'robber baron'; most of them had homes in Cleveland), Ella Fitzgerald, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Nat King Cole, Vivien Leigh, Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nureyev, then Cleveland City Council present Mr. Jay Westbrook and then Cleveland mayor Mr. Michael White (he is talking to pope John 23rd).
See the other images of this mural to continue the commentary.