The corner of Second and E Street may look a little different these days to passers-by as Uncle Vito’s Slice of N.Y. pizza restaurant approaches its grand opening. Even more surprising, however, may be the extra large black-and-white mural that decorates one side of the building.
The mural, which was designed and painted by local artist Ted Weldon, uses iconic images of New York City to advertise for Uncle Vito’s. Easily recognizable is Charles C. Ebbets‘ famous photograph of construction workers enjoying a precarious lunch break on a girder hundreds of feet above New York City. In the mural, Weldon crops the image and adds an extra touch – one of the workers is eating Uncle Vito’s pizza. The rest of the painting is a variation of this same New York City theme as Weldon incorporates street scenes, an old pizza parlor and the city’s sprawling landscape.
Weldon has painted murals for a number of restaurants in Sacramento, including Paesanos, Paesanos Pronto and Bistro 33. The Uncle Vito’s mural is his first in Davis.
Uncle Vito’s co-owner Dave Virgas said he’s been commissioning Weldon for at least 10 years to decorate various restaurants in the area.
“We thought the [Second Street] building was a bit drab looking and Ted recently did a mural in downtown Sacramento at one of our restaurants,” Virgas said. “I had the idea … for a mix of old New York and Italian images, and I knew Ted could pull it off.“
Weldon said he tries to take into account the differences between fine art pieces and large-scale murals when he’s painting.
“You need to take into consideration the visual aspect of the art and where people are looking at it from,” he said. “With this [mural] a lot of people are on foot or driving by so they only have a few seconds to look at it, so I wanted it to make sense right away and look good from far away.“
A mural is typically a permanent exhibit whereas a piece of fine art can be moved from one place to another and can be seen in a different context, Weldon said.
As for people’s responses to the piece, Weldon said it’s been very positive.
“Everyone passing by seems to appreciate it,” he said.
Beth Lenz, a fifth-year senior biological sciences major, agreed with Weldon.
“It’s always a good thing to have more art downtown,” she said. “Plus the mural makes me want to try the pizza that much more.“
ZACK FREDERICK can be reached at email@example.com.