Local Current Blog

Where did that Prince mural on the Midtown Greenway come from?

Prince mural on the Midtown Greenway. (Jay Gabler/MPR)

Over the past several weeks, bikers and walkers along the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis have noticed a very familiar, larger-than-life, face under the Aldrich Avenue bridge: Prince, circa his 1999 era. What’s the story behind this latest Prince mural in Minnesota?

All the way from Almere in the Netherlands, the anonymous street art crew Kamp Seedorf shipped three of their members to Minnesota to paint murals across the Twin Cities. It was the special request of Dan Hoedeman, President of the Minneapolis City Soccer Club (MCSC), that allowed the artists to come to the United States and gift MCSC with murals honoring some of their soccer players and the musical legend Prince.

“We’ve never been to the USA and via Twitter we got in contact with a local soccer club named Minneapolis City SC,” wrote Kamp Seedorf in an e-mail. “Together with them we made a plan of getting us to Minneapolis to do some big art installations throughout the city.”

Almost 10 years ago, the art collective was born and named “Kamp,” which means crew or squad in Dutch, and “Seedorf,” which is the name of a successful soccer player in the Netherlands. In Europe, soccer is one of the most popular sports but is rarely seen on the streets as art, according to the graffiti group. “We thought it would be great to mix our two biggest passions, art and soccer, into one thing that became Kamp Seedorf.”

Hoedeman says that in a state best-known for hockey, the Minneapolis City Soccer Club helps raise the visibility of local players, providing “hype” when they play in the national premier soccer league and the U.S. Open Cup as a Division Four soccer team.

While the team has grown, Hoedeman wanted to thank some of the oldest members who have helped them go from a “ramshackle” team playing at high schools in front of 200 people in 2016 to where we are now: winning their conference two seasons in a row and playing in front of as many as 6,000 fans.

“I asked Kamp Seedorf if they would do a mural [of a couple team members] and they said well you know, we’re not really a commercial thing,” Hoedeman recalls. “I said, ‘Well, this is why I want to do it and here’s the story for these guys’ and that piqued their interest.”

Kamp Seedorf ended up doing larger-than-life-sized murals of Martin Brown, a “fantastic player” who immigrated from Nigeria when he was a child; Ben Wexler, who’s played with Martin since they were little kids; and their spirited goalkeeper Matt Elder.

They also decided to paint a mural in honor of Prince. They chose the location, they wrote, note even realizing that Prince lived on Aldrich Avenue, less than a mile north of the Greenway, early in his career.

“Our Airbnb was just nearby so we could carry all our stuff easily to that location,” Kamp Seedorf explained in an e-mail. “We were trying to get it on the side of First Avenue, but we weren’t able to pull that off,” Hoedeman said.

“The experience of having them come to American and see Minneapolis and really geek out about the city and dive into the city made me really enthusiastic,” Hoedeman said. “It felt like we had these shared interests and shared values. The things that we were really into just overlapped.”

The Greenway mural was temporary; while still visible, it’s already starting to peel away. A more permanent Prince mural can be seen just off Hennepin Avenue near the Greenway tribute; there are also Prince murals in Chanhassen (home of Paisley Park) and Henderson (where the “that ain’t Lake Minnetonka” scene was filmed for Purple Rain).