Prince will star at U.S. Bank Stadium in the form of a piece of art, even though Minnesota's musical majesty died before he could play the building.
“Purple Reign,” a 5-by-7-feet acrylic on canvas by local artist Nicholas Schleif, went up in the entry to the Medtronic Club, Valhalla Suites and Delta Sky 360 Club areas of the downtown Minneapolis stadium.
Fans will be able to see the piece through the glass doors of the entry on the main concourse near the southeastern side of the building.
In his signature style, Schleif re-created an image of Prince’s memorable 2007 Super Bowl halftime performance in the rain. The painted portrait is made up entirely of words from the lyrics of Prince’s songs. The words are composed of 8,500 dots.
Schleif, 36, a native of Comfrey, spent three days choosing the words and lyrics for the image. He then used a grid system to lay out his map in 100 rows of 85 dots.
In a phone interview hours after his canvas was hung, Schleif said he revered Prince. “You can’t be from here without being touched by him. I was hopefully able to do him justice.”
To create the piece, he gutted a ballpoint pen, then inserted a toothpick that he dipped into paint and dotted onto the canvas. He is drawn to the words-and-dots method of portraiture for the social commentary behind it of how we live in an information age with everything “reduced to words on a page,” Schleif said.
The work took him five weeks of nothing but painting, sleeping and eating, because of a compressed deadline that Schleif said helped him connect viscerally to the work.
In creating the piece, he said he borrowed the grid design from the work of artist Chuck Close and sought to give the canvas the brilliant illumination of a Mark Rothko painting.
Created in purple and gold hues, rather than the turquoise and orange Prince wore that day, the image mirrors the colors of the Minnesota Vikings, the stadium’s main tenant.
The plaque posted next to the work notes the themes of Prince’s music: love, social change, celebration and loss.
Throughout the canvas, raindrops and the glyph Prince once used as a name signal transitions. Doves, First Avenue and Paisley Park also are present.
Schleif has other works in the building, done before the Prince homage, including a similarly created images of Vikings Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant. Two side-by-side canvasses of Grant’s face were created out of words and numbers from his long career. Grant’s images are in black and white.
Schleif is a graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn., and still lives in that area.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747