In 1988, RISD student Al Read bonded with a fellow skateboard fan and new student who went on to make a giant impression on the art world. As the years passed, Al moved from pizza chef at Fellini’s to owner of the highly regarded Nice Slice Pizza, which embraced Brown and RISD students for years from its cozy Thayer Street location. Early in Nice Slice history, Shepard Fairey painted an original artwork on the wall of his favorite pizza place in 2009, while visiting Boston for his 20-year retrospective, as a gift to Read and his customers. “Al was thankful, but actually, I was getting prime real estate in the coolest spot on hip Thayer Street in Providence,” Fairey says on his website’s blog (obeygiant.com).
The art work features Angela Davis along with a number of common themes Fairey has played with, including Andre stencils and the Obey motif, along with smaller portraits of a special lady, all tying into a speak-truth-to-power protest vibe.
After years in that location, dramatically rising rent caused Nice Slice to bring its cutting-edge pizza to a more affordable location. Nice Slice found a new home on the West Side, where many nice customers followed.
But what about the mural, literally painted into the old location? Its value had no doubt risen significantly with the fortunes of its auteur, but its sentimental value to Read was immeasurable. So he cut it out – wall and all – and took it with him. If you visit Nice Slice, you can see this local treasure bolted against the back wall in the sleekly designed new location (ask about the furniture too while you’re there, all custom designed and created by Read).