Local Current Blog

‘He spoke to everybody’: Chanhassen celebrates new Prince mural

Photos by Youa Vang (above, top two below) and Emmet Kowler (all others) for MPR

Two months and a day after Prince passed away, friends, family, and fans came together to commemorate the music icon’s life once again last night at the unveiling of a mural in honor of the performer in his hometown of Chanhassen.

The evening seemed more of a celebration of Prince’s life rather than a night dedicated to mourning. “He spoke to everybody,” said Michael Holtz, who regularly DJed at Paisley Park, as he spun records for the crowd gathered in the back lot of the Chanhassen Cinema. “He spoke to all ages, races, sexual orientation. Even the way Prince looked, and the way he presented himself. It allowed people to say, ‘Wow, this guy’s got it. I can have it, too.’ That’s what connected everybody.”

The mural was created by Mr G (Graham) Hoete of Sydney, Australia. When the painter heard of the musician’s passing, he painted a mural in Sydney, and via social media, received many requests to come to Minnesota and paint another one. When obtaining permits proved to be too difficult – his original plan was to paint a five-story mural in Minneapolis – Kirstyn Samson of Chanhassen found him on social media and secured the back wall of the Chanhassen Cinema. Once he got the green light, Hoete booked a flight on his own dime and got to work.

His media, when he first began painting, were traditional oils and acrylics, but 14 years ago, a friend of his introduced him to aerosol paints. The purple sky and clouds that make up  the background of the mural were rendered with roller paints, and everything else is spray paint. Many visitors to the wall on Wednesday night noted how stunningly Prince’s eyes shone as they looked out at the sunset.

“I love portraiture,” Hoete said in a quiet moment from the patio of the hotel overlooking the mural. “I also do graphic design, so that helped me with the layout and composition of the doves and rainclouds. I feel all of my artistic experience and elements show in the final work.”

As the clouds rolled in, photographers took a group shot of the artist and the crowd in front of the mural, and once done, Hoete did a traditional Maori haka dance for the Mayor of Chanhassen, Denny Laufenburger. The dance is done for many reasons, originally performed by warriors before battle, but it can also be done to acknowledge great achievements or occasions and funerals.

Laufenberger thanked Hoete and everyone in attendance with these closing words: “Prince Rogers Nelson lived a life of graciousness and generosity for his fans and this community of Chanhassen. These traits have been demonstrated by Mr. G. Let this mural be a reminder to each of us to leave that sort of mark in our community and our circle of friends.”

“So many people have said to me, ‘I can’t believe that Prince is gone,’” Hoete observed after posing for many photos with fans, “but the reality is death is inevitable. That’s what makes life more wonderful. It asserts the point of making the most of life while you have the opportunity to do so. That’s the life Prince lived. That’s also what drives me to paint. I love how he was super-passionate about being in that creative space.”

Youa Vang is appreciative of all genres of music — even country. When not writing about music, she can be found working on her standup comedy and cross-stitching mischievous sayings while watching The Simpsons.

Michael Holtz

Mr Hoete and fans2