Hundreds of Prince fanatics arrived at the Weisman Art Museum Friday night to see the preview of the new exhibition “Prince from Minneapolis.” The party, which quickly sold out, offered fancy foods and drinks, a lavish lounge, a professional photo booth and Prince inspired DJs. Visitors sipped on wine as they squeezed through the crowd, circled the galleries and got down on the dance floor.
The exhibition features two different sets of work. In the Carlson Gallery, 24 photographs belonging to four photographers feature Prince in his early years and during his rise to fame. There was a sense of respect and remembrance as people quietly scanned the photographs.
The next gallery was much livelier than the first. Purple dove decals lined the floor and led from the Carlson Gallery to the Target Studio where “Fanning It!” a collection of art inspired by Prince, was displayed. Audible gasps and shrill screams could be heard from the entryway as a towering mural of the icon came into sight.
“When I moved to Minneapolis, everyone kind of had a Prince story, and now I have one. It’s pretty amazing. It kind of makes me a part of Minneapolis, and I feel fortunate for that,” said Rock Martinez, graffiti artist and creator of the mural.
Martinez was approached by WAM Senior Curator Diane Mullin after she saw his street art portrait of Prince located on 26th Street and Hennepin Avenue. The mural is comprised of six eight-by-eight foot canvases and was commissioned by WAM.
Another notable highlight of “Fanning It!” was Seattle-based artist Troy Gua’s “Le Petit Prince.” Gua’s photos reveal surreal images of a hand-crafted miniature sculpture of Prince.
“At the end of the year, after making other work, I decided I wanted to make something really fun for myself and I made little Prince… I’m working through his life and career chronologically, and I’m doing around four to six images per year,” Gua said.
Inspired by Gerry Anderson’s marionette characters who have oversized eyes and heads, Gua’s “Le Petit Prince” character has similar traits. Gua makes every article of clothing, accessory and item visible in the photographs by hand. He releases one photo every Saturday on his Instagram.
“[Prince] changed my life at 13. I saw him on MTV. My sister took me to 'Purple Rain' and that was it,” Gua said. “I’m just really honored and grateful to be included in this show.”
The exhibition originated when associate geography professor Arun Saldanha came to WAM with the idea.
“He came and said, ‘I’m applying for this big faculty grant, and I really think we need to do a Prince symposium, and I think we need to give him an honorary doctorate.’ That was a few years before [Prince] died,” Mullin said.
“We batted it around here at the Weisman for a while… and then decided we should do this,” Mullin said.
The party stretched late into the evening and ended with a heartfelt “Purple Rain.” In January, the Weisman will be hosting “Prince in Perspective,” featuring photographer Terry Gydesen to talk about her experience working with Prince. In April, an international conference will be held investigating Prince’s relation to Minneapolis and Minnesota.