WALLINGFORD — Elvis may have left the building but his memory is alive at Vinny’s Deli, where his image is soon to be emblazoned on a highly stylized mural.
Ryan "Arcy" Christenson — a 2005 Sheehan High School graduate and pop-art spray paint artist — worked Monday on a mural depicting Elvis in a rhinestone jumpsuit and cape flanked by deli sandwiches.
Earlier this year, Christenson painted a four-panel mural inside Sheehan depicting Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Elon Musk and Serena Williams.
He’s painted murals regionally in Meriden, Southington and at the Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts, in addition to his work around the country and internationally.
Christenson said Monday that he spent the summer traveling the country working on murals, and had a few days free so he was able to squeeze in the mural at Vinny’s Deli at 567 Center St.
The billboard is 8 feet by 16 feet. He uses Montana spray paint, a high quality German brand.
Christenson said he hoped to complete the mural Monday, but might finish up Tuesday morning. After the Elvis mural is complete, he’s off to Georgia, he said.
Owner Vinny Iannuzzi said that “it's a comforting feeling” when people from Wallingford, like Christenson, make it big in their line of work.
“He did us a favor,” he said about Christenson. “Because he was in between jobs, he was willing to do it (and) because it was his hometown.”
Iannuzzi was in awe of Christenson’s process, documenting the mural’s creation in videos on Facebook. He said he plans to name a sandwich after him.
“When he showed me what he thought he could do with it, my first words were, ‘oh my god,’” he said. “We have it on the computer, so I brought some people back and every person who’s looked at that went, ‘oh my god.’”
Christenson said his mural is a contribution to the community.
“It helps with the business and everything, but still, we're getting more public art in Wallingford,” he said. “I think that's the most important thing. He (Iannuzzi) could have easily gone with just getting some marketing sign company to go and just do a design. He wanted to support local art, and I think that's awesome.”
Iannuzzi said he always looks to showcase people in the community. In the past, he’s honored boxer Sean Malone and cardiac arrest survivor and nonprofit founder Michael Papale, both of whom are from Wallingford.
“We're community first,” he said. “We buy American. Keep it in your community, keep it in your state, keep it in your country.”
Elvis wore jumpsuits during his career comeback in the 1970s, performing live in Las Vegas and in concert films.
Society is making somewhat of a comeback, too, Iannuzzi said, after a year and a half of COVID-19-related restrictions.
“We're back,” he said. “Elvis is back. He's still in the house.”