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June 21, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
There’s always a party at Shakespeare’s Pizza — and not just when you walk through the front door. The outdoor mural painted on the west wall depicts the boisterous spirit of the restaurant and brings the party to the back parking lot.
The 43-by-15-foot mural was completed in 2003, with the exception of one piece. To the left of the mural, original artist Ned Vail outlined an homage to the restaurant’s employees as a nod to the people he met while working on the piece.
Throughout the mural’s life, several people have contributed to it. Nine years after the project was started, another Shakespeare’s employee, local artist Mandy Rolwes, is filling in the 9-by-9-foot portion of the mural.
Rolwes took up the project in July of 2011. After noticing the outline, she snapped photos of Vail’s work for reference and drafted a new sketch to modernize it.
Although the summer heat has slowed the process, Rolwes says she hopes to complete the project by the end of July.
“I don’t want it to look obvious that it’s separate,” Rolwes says. “Even after 10 years, we want it to blend in to look like one piece.”
Vail began the project in 2003 with the C.A.R.E. Gallery, an organization that brings together local professionals and at-risk youths. To capture the true character of the restaurant, Vail and the children painted from observation. The mural’s bright colors and cartoon-like figures show a busy and social day at Shakespeare’s.
Vail made sure to look at even the fine details, such as the flyers on the wall and the writing on the chalkboard outside the restaurant.
Although Vail hadn’t heard about the restaurant’s plans to fill in the outlined piece, he says he thinks it’s a great idea.
“As an artist, you have to be flexible,” Vail says. “Nothing lasts forever, but this will bring great attention to the mural.”
One of Shakespeare’s managers, Kurt Mirtsching, says the restaurant is happy to display the public art. He says people often take photos next to the mural. Their response celebrates the piece as a highlight of the downtown art scene.