Prince can now be seen again at the Chanhassen Cinema, a place the late music icon used to take in movies in the wee hours.
A completed 40-foot mural is being unveiled Wednesday night thanks to artist Graham Hoete -- known as Mr. G. -- who is based in Sydney, Australia.
Mr. G, a native of New Zealand and also a musician and an avid Prince fan, said he had been hoping to create a tribute in Minnesota since shortly after Prince died in April.
The Chanhassen Cinema location came together in relatively quick fashion with the help of Chanhassen resident Kirstyn Sansom, who is a native of Australia who was transferred to the United States for business and lived in Eden Prairie for three years before moving to Chanhassen with her family in 2010.
Sansom learned about Mr. G’s desire to create a Prince mural in Minnesota via social media. Back in Australia, a friend of her sister had been trying to help find a suitable place for the mural and contacted Sansom.
“The message was ‘Mr. G is looking for a wall. Can you help?’” Sansom said.
Sansom said she grew up with Prince’s music and liked it but she wouldn’t consider herself a hard-core fan.
“A lot of people were devastated when Prince passed away,” Sansom said.
She said she went to Paisley Park to Facetime with her sister’s friend — an avid Prince fan — to help console her after his death.
“But because he was from New Zealand and lived in Australia — that’s what really prompted me to help him,” she said.
Sansom and Mr. G were connected and exchanged emails and started the hunt for a wall.
After attempts to find a site in Minneapolis stalled, they turned their attention to Chanhassen.
Sansom said she made contact with city officials, who directed her to the Chanhassen Cinema.
Martin Hubbard, COO of Five Star Cinemas, said the cinema was open to the idea.
“He was one of our favorite clients,” Hubbard said. “He was like family.”
Prince started his late-night visits to the theater in 1998 and would come several times per year, sometimes with a group and sometimes by himself.
One time when the air conditioning went out at Paisley Park, he “brought 300 of his closest friends over,” Hubbard said.
Mr. G funded nearly the entire project, said Harris Meitanis, his manager in Australia.
He paid for his flight, paint and was able to get accommodations with the help of the Sansoms. The theater provided the boom lift to assist with the large-scale painting, Meitanis said.
“It was all funded as a gift from Mr. G to the city of Chanhassen and Prince’s fans worldwide,” he said.
Mr. G, who has recently painted murals of Prince and Muhammad Ali in Australia, would typically receive between $25,000 and $50,000 for a painting of this scale, Meitanis said.
Meitanis said Mr. G’s work is “quite well known outside of America. He’s one of the world’s best large-scale artists.”
Mr. G began painting on Saturday, June 18. Soon passersby took notice and by Monday the mural was gaining lots of attention.
As he was putting the finishing touches on the mural this week, Mr. G said he did the mural of Prince in Sydney, Australia, because Prince had such a big influence on his life.
“I’ve always appreciated Prince’s creative genius,” Mr. G said from atop the boom lift next to the cinema with spent spray paint cans scattered nearby.
Mr. G said that he received requests to do a tribute mural in Minnesota, which fueled the desire to come to Chanhassen.
During his four days of painting, he also made time to visit with local school children as well as interested onlookers who visited the site.
But mostly he focused on painting to complete the project in time for a Wednesday evening mural reveal event at the cinema.
Based on reactions on Tuesday, as the mural was completed, the reveal will be a success.
“I was speechless,” Sansom said when she saw the finished mural Tuesday.
She said she watched as the process evolved from an image on a cell phone to a 40-foot mural.
“It absolutely amazes me that someone has that kind of talent,” she said.
For Sansom, who also helped plan Wednesday’s event, the effort that went into making the mural a reality was worth it.
“I offer to help out a lot. I’m not sure why sometimes, but I’m so glad I helped him,” Sansom said. “He’s a genuinely nice guy and I think at the end of the day this is where it belongs.”