A larger-than-life mural of Minneapolis-born music legend Prince now greets travelers coming and going through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The 16-foot by 24-foot mural, titled “I would Die 4 U,” was installed Monday on the tram level of Terminal 1, offering fans of the musician a glimpse of his vibrant onstage persona. Named after a song from Prince and The Revolution’s 1984 album, “Purple Rain,” the mural is comprised of six separate 8-foot by 8-foot panels depicting The Purple One playing his famous “Cloud” guitar in a dazzling blue outfit.
Minneapolis-based graffiti artist Rock Martinez created the mural in 2017 for the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota. The painting is now returning to the Twin Cities after appearing at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle. Martinez said he is grateful to see the piece return to “Prince’s city.”
“More than I would die for you, it’s I lived for you,” Martinez said. “He loved Minneapolis so much.”
The 39-year-old artist, who also painted a large mural of Prince in south Minneapolis after his death in 2016, said he wanted to capture his unique style.
“The thing that he held so dearly was his music and the sense of this psychedelic funk that he carried with him,” Martinez said.
He hopes to one day create a mural of Prince that matches the incredible size of the Bob Dylan mural on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
The aerosol-painted mural, which will hang on display until next January, is the most recent installation in MSP’s rotating exhibits program, which was started, “to create a peaceful respite while also fostering a sense of place, connecting travelers to the region,” according to a news release from ARTS@MSP program.
“It’s just a really great way for us to provide a tribute to Prince and also highlight the work of a local artist,” said Ben Owen, director of arts for ARTS@MSP.
The work builds on the airport’s connection to the music icon, who sold more than 100 million albums during his lifetime. A Prince pop-up shop opened in MSP last year selling merchandise, books, CDs and tickets to visit Paisley Park, Prince’s home and studio.
“This mural is a beautiful reminder of his impact and ongoing influence, and we are so glad the airport has chosen to honor Prince in this way,” said Paisley Park Executive Director Alan Seiffert, in a statement. “We hope travelers will be inspired to reflect on the love and creativity that Prince embodied.”
About 38 million travelers passed through MSP last year, so Martinez’s mural is sure to be seen by a large audience.
“We’re trying to create visibility for local artists and local partner exhibiting organizations,” Owen said, “and do it in really meaningful ways for our guests to experience the creativity that exists right here in the Upper Midwest.”
Henry Erlandson • 612-673-4789