John's 44th St. Murals (1997)

A Set of Murals about New York and Times Square at John's 44th St.
260 West 44th Street

Douglas Cooper, Artist
School of Architecture
Carnegie Mellon University

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Sarah Cooper, Artist's Assistant
Rebecca Schultz, Artist's Assistant
John Trivelli, Artist's Assistant

Andrew Tesoro, Architect

How was the mural made?

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Other Murals by Douglas Cooper

CMU University Center, Pittsburgh
Courthouse Mural, Philadelphia
Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh
John's 65th St., New York
Kleinmarkthalle, Frankfurt
UCSF Mural, San Francisco
Baker Mural
Italy Mural (new)

Articles about the Murals

Overlooking Manhattan

An image for each booth

Ebbets Field

Front Room Mural

Marilyn and Brando

John, Yoko and Brando


About the mural...
I composed three very different murals for three very different settings for John's on 44th Street just west of Times Square. The facility is vast (it seats more than 400 patrons and was once a chapel) and it has several different scales. Its main space, which has a theatrical presence, has a cupola of stained glass and a broad balcony focusing on the end wall where the minister once spoke. The front room has a lower ceiling and windows looking outside to the street. Despite the differences of their settings, there are some commonalties among the murals. All focus on the general theme, New York; all center to one degree or another on Times Square; and all are composed in response to immediately adjacent seating.

The Main Room Mural 21'h x 30'w:
Because of its balcony and end wall proportions, I immediately thought of the "movies" when I first saw this central space. I wanted to compose a view that would give it a cinematic presence appropriate for Times Square as well as for the space. Like a movie screen, I thought of this mural as a window into a space outside of the restaurant.

The Main Room Mural is a panoramic fly-over of Manhattan visible from the full width of the bi-level mezzanine. It is framed by architectural details of the central space: the proscenium above and the pilasters on either side. It is sufficiently detailed to engage patrons on the ground floor and mezzanine alike in finding famous New York sites from Central Park in the North to the Battery in the South. The foreground is set in one of the most dramatic views of Manhattan: the view from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River above the entrances to the Lincoln Midtown Tunnels.

To bring the vast scale of the panorama down to the personal scale of the individual diner, I placed a series of individual images centered on each booth at the base of the mural. Echoing the north to south direction of the panorama above, from left to right their themes are: Yankee Stadium, The Ed Sullivan Show, Times Square in the 1950s, The Metropolitan Opera House and Ebbets Field.

Front Room Bar Mural 8'h x 30'w
Because the Front Room Mural is visible from 44th Street, I thought it appropriate that this mural should have a more graphic and immediate read that would underscore John's location near Times Square. Consequently, this mural focuses on the vivid street life of the Square and its many signs. The view's perspective is constantly turning. At the left it looks down 44th Street to the West towards The Schubert and St. James Theaters and Sardis Restaurant. In the middle it looks northward up Broadway and 7th Avenue and at the right it looks past the famous Times Tower to the East along 42nd Street. At its base at the eye-level of patrons seated in booths is a crowd of autos, buses and people. Among the crowd are famous personalities that can be identified by patrons waiting for their orders. Marlene Dietrich, Ed Sullivan, Mickey Mantle, Salvadore Dali, Theodore Roosevelt, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Woody Allen and Jackie Kennedy Onassis can be sighted in the crowd, just to name a few. At mid-height are photographic images, created by my daughter Sarah. These portray the powerful impact that Times Square's many advertisements have upon the Square. Much as these commercial images seem other-worldly in the grit of the real Times Square, these photographic images, many of which are in color, are entered into the mural for the contrast they provide.

The Mezzanine Mural 2'h x 28'w
I designed the Mezzanine Mural to provide some intimacy for the mezzanine which sits beneath the vast Cupola above. I composed a frieze of separate images that are individually lit and which rhythmically follow the seating arrangement. Images focus on the theatrical character of the District. They illustrate a set of improbable theatrical anecdotes going back as far as the 1880s when the first theater and entertainment facilities were located in and around Times Square.

Times Square Signs