At the Casket Arts Building in Northeast Minneapolis on Friday, artist Peyton Scott Russell was proudly overlooking his working studio space, which was turned into a makeshift gallery for his show Glam Art. “I really cleaned this place out so people could come in,” Peyton said, chuckling. According to him, his studio is usually so full of equipment that you can barely walk around. Being in there on April 21, you would never be able to tell.
With the help of co-organizer Sarah Savoy, Peyton transformed his studio space to showcase some of his artwork, including pieces that once hung in Prince’s former Minneapolis night club Glam Slam. Temporary walls, painted purple, held the large, colorful art that is set to be auctioned off come September.
The small space was abuzz with adoring Prince fans, each wearing purple in some way or another. They happily snapped pictures with the art, taking in the beauty of Peyton’s unique style and meticulous attention to detail. “Underwater People is my favorite piece here,” Peyton said. “That’s because it’s the only piece that I actually dreamt about. I saw it in one of my dreams.”
Among the large paintings on display were close-ups of Cindy Crawford, Michael Jordan, and Jimi Hendrix. Each of their faces were portrayed in a mix of vibrant colors, offering a likeness with a sense of altered reality that is incredibly eye-catching. The only piece that is framed is one entitled His Royal Badness. This is a portrait of Prince himself, done in a striking pop-art style. It is a piece that, interestingly enough, was supposed to hang in Glam Slam. Promptly after Prince saw it, he asked that it be taken down. For obvious reasons, this piece was by far the most photographed of the day.
Over the course of the entire hour-and-a-half event, conversation throughout the crowd did not die down once. That’s something Peyton loved, especially because so much of the work had been in storage for years prior. “All of this stuff comes out of the dust and it’s out now and people are talking about it.”
The energy at the show was easy to get wrapped up in, and while Peyton was thrilled to display his work, he hadn’t forgotten about the important date his show took place on: the first anniversary of Prince’s death. “I’m a little numb right now,” he said. Still, the amount of love Peyton received from everyone at the show was enough to get him to laugh while telling his favorite Prince stories.
At one point, Peyton led us all outside into the beautiful 60-degree weather. Just outside of his studio space lies a long horizontal wall that currently pays homage to Prince in the form of a mural. Now, this purple masterpiece will be painted over. That’s because this particular wall is a part of a project Peyton calls “1 to 1.” Peyton pairs up with another artist, and together they paint the wall with whatever image speaks to them at the time.
Initially, there was a new mural on the wall about every month, but after Peyton and local artist Wes Winship made the Prince mural last summer, Peyton found himself getting too busy to schedule another artist. So, the mural stayed. Sarah Savoy suggested that he keep the mural up until the Glam Slam show, which Peyton admits he had a hard time with, as he is excited to get the “1 to 1” project started again.
When Peyton asked if anyone had any questions about the wall, the answer was a long pause of silence. Finally, a woman spoke up and quietly said: “We are in awe.”
Writer Hanna Bubser is an English student at Hamline University. Photographer Emma Roden is a student at Normandale Community College.