Inspiration Behind Cityscape 2023

Inspiration Behind Cityscape 2023

I recently completed building my new store, which I enjoyed creating, but boy oh boy, was it time consuming. I finally got back to painting. It feels like it took forever to complete the Cityscape 2023. It sat in my studio (which is in my living room), oh so close to being complete, and yet NOT! It beckoned to me.

Cityscape 2023 by Diane Staver
Cityscape 2023, acrylic, 36" x 12"

It may look a bit familiar, and that is because it was inspired by a digital piece I created in 2016. The original inspiration is from the mixed-media piece, The Block (1971), by American artist Romare Bearden. The Block is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection but, sadly, has not been on display for several years.

Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bearden spent each year in New York during his childhood. In 1940 he established his first studio in Harlem, in the same building as the artist Jacob Lawrence and the poet­/novelist Claude McKay. Bearden was active in the Harlem cultural community artists' organization known as the 306 Group and a member of the Harlem Artists Guild.

 The Block (1971), by Romare Bearden. Metropolitan Museum of Art
 The Block (1971), by Romare Bearden. Metropolitan Museum of Art

According to the Met's site, "Each of the six panels of The Block presents an aspect of life in Harlem (in NYC), depicting such neighborhood institutions as the Evangelical church, the barbershop, and the corner grocery store. Bearden took artistic license in revealing the private moments of tenement life as well as the exuberant humanity that existed in the prototypical city block. His concern with social issues reflects the influence of the German artist George Grosz, with whom Bearden had studied at the Art Students League in the 1930s."

Detail, The Block
Detail from The Block.

The first two buildings on the left side of the canvas are based on buildings north and northwest of Indianapolis. Bert & John's is a Package Goods and Tavern in Kokomo, Indiana. It's a small, cozy home, long ago converted into a bar. It survived covid and is what we Chicagoans call a neighborhood bar. I am happy to see they support the Chicago Blackhawks!!

Left, Bert & John's Package Store & Tavern. On the righ Kirklin Liquor Store.

The middle and mainly green buildings are directly tied into the first Cityscape. They are made from pieces of buildings from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Buildings made from parts of buildings in Pittsbught, P.A.

The Coffee Steamer Trailer is in Fairbury, Illinois. There may be more than one of these drive-thru coffee stores, but this is the first time I have seen a trailer used for this purpose! It stands in front of an old car wash that may or may not be in use.

 The Coffee Steamer Trailer in Fairbury, Illinois
 The Coffee Steamer Trailer in Fairbury, Illinois


The closest I got to symbolism was the day to night: coffee in the morning to nightcap at night. The irony is that I no longer drink alcohol or coffee!

The original painting is for sale, as are the prints; all can be found on my website.  Ciao! --d

Cityscape 2023, hanging in an intertior

P.S. Below is a YouTube video of the creating of Cityscape 2023. The music is a bit intense, so you may choose to watch without sound.


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.