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|Unfinished Mural -detail 2
Wilma Smith is a much beloved Cleveland celebrity news anchor recognized as much for her enchanting looks as for her soothing voice. As far as classy ladies go, Wilma is one of John's favourites -and one of only a few he personally asked to be in the mural. Chuck Diamond, in spite of his ever-growing list of candidates for a limited number of spots, was thrilled with the idea.
During a meeting at her office, while she posed for reference shots, John asked her who would she liked to be with? Cary Grant was her answer. And so Cary Grant it was. For good measure, John also added Cary Cooper eavesdropping at Cary's "technique" of charming the ladies. It looks like its working on Wilma.
This is good example of John's way of approaching his work. For him, it is more than just painting a "cardboard" likeness. They also have to have a personality and a reason to be there. He treats the viewer as a voyeur and his characters as people who know they are being observed. Being celebrities they may not care, but from time to time you catch their attention.
For John, one of the saddest outcomes of the cancellation of the work was not being able to show Wilma the finished piece. Instead, he did a small painting of her and Cary with the intention of presenting it to her as a gift. However, the painting is still with him because is one of the few things that pleases him. Some day he will send it to Wilma for safekeeping.
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