Take a stroll by Farview Park along North 26th Avenue in Minneapolis, and you may notice a splash of purple amidst the snow and barren branches. This purple — a shade formally titled “Purple Reign”— is the color of a new permanent sculpture unveiled this month, which emulates the subject of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and honors the late legend.
Esther Osayande’s hollow raindrop stands just over 15 feet tall and doubles as a snug seating area at the edge of the park, through which onlookers can view its winding paths. Though she has spent decades in the Twin Cities arts scene organizing artists and creating work, this is the Northside resident’s first larger public sculpture.
Purple Raindrop was installed in conjunction with Christopher Harrison’s 15-foot-high patinated bronze and steel archway Aqurbane, also along 26th Avenue at the entrance to Theodore Wirth Park. According to the City of Minneapolis, both works were constructed at Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center in South Minneapolis as part of a program that aims to present the work of diverse local artists. Harrison and Osayande, along with artist Christopheraaron Deanes, were chosen by a panel of Northside residents and city staff to design works that speak directly to the area’s community.
“As a conscious artist I want to spread a message of good will and share the joy of spirit,” Osayande said in a statement. “I believe this something that we all want and need regardless of where we are stationed on this blue marble, Earth, where art speaks to us all.”
Purple Raindrop is on view now, and will serve as part of a continuing effort along 26th Avenue to increase access to the Mississippi River from the Northside. Music fans in the neighborhood are also watching the progress of a major riverside project that is expected to include an amphitheater run by First Avenue.
The sculpture joins a list of public artworks that are must-sees for Prince fans. Among them: the iconic Schmitt Music mural in downtown Minneapolis, a 2016 mural in Uptown Minneapolis, and a large mural in Chanhassen.
Lydia Moran is a music and arts writer in Minneapolis.
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