The skies of downtown Minneapolis glowed purple from buildings and bridges as people clad in — what else? — purple danced in the street Thursday night. It was time to celebrate the official unveiling of a new 100-foot-tall mural of the city's most famous music star, Prince.
Dig if you will this mural: It depicts the Minneapolis native at three different stages — pre-stardom, "Purple Rain" flamboyance and '00s glory, clutching a gold glyph-shaped guitar.
The canvas of Miami street artist Hiero Veiga is a brick wall of the Ramp A parking structure. The site — on 1st Avenue N. near 8th Street — is right around the corner from First Avenue, where Prince famously filmed his 1984 movie "Purple Rain."
While the Interstate 35 bridge and several downtown buildings let their purple lights shine, Prince's sisters Tyka and Norrine Nelson spoke to a large crowd gathered by the mural.
"This street and this city mean so much to us," Tyka Nelson told the crowd. "You showed up, and you showed out."
Before the speeches, DJ Mickey Breeze, 20, spun Prince tunes, and people partied to live music by Dr. Mambo's Combo, a veteran Twin Cities funk band with which Prince would occasionally sit in at Bunker's Bar in the North Loop.
Awash in purple with hints of pink and gold, the mural features in the lower right corner Prince with a prominent Afro, an image based on a 1977 Robert Whitman photograph taken before the singer signed with Warner Bros.
To the left, curly-haired Prince, in a feather boa and multicolored suit, is captured soloing on guitar on the Purple Rain Tour, derived from a photo by Nancy Bundt. At the top of the mural is the most dominant image, Prince posed with a guitar, inspired by a photo circa 2006 by Afshin Shahidi, Prince's personal photographer who published the 2017 book "Prince: A Private View."
"I wanted a narrative," Veiga said. "And I wanted to have the symbol but not so obvious."
Other speakers included Twin Cities arts consultant Joan Vorderbruggen and marketing executive Sharon Smith-Akinsanya,who worked for Prince in the 1990s. She began a campaign for the mural with his blessings in 2015, the year a Bob Dylan mural went up on a private building at Hennepin Avenue and 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis. The Prince mural was also privately financed.