By Jean Doran Matua, Editor
It’s been just over four years since the accidental death of Minnesota’s legendary Prince. His Chanhassen home still stands as a memorial to his life and talents, and First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis will forever be his concert venue.
Business owners in Henderson, Minn., began a de facto memorial to Prince in their town. Portions of Prince’s 1984 ground-breaking movie “Purple Rain” was filmed in Henderson. So it’s only natural that there is a big mural there, and a tribute bench, and that local stores sell Prince souvenirs. An annual Princefest Henderson is held there (except for this year).
A life-sized statue of Prince was commissioned by locals in Henderson. It was originally scheduled to be installed on Prince’s birthday June 7. With everything being upturned and rescheduled, the grand unveiling ceremony has been postponed to next year.
In the meantime, the staff at Brodin Studios near Kimball has been busy finishing the statue and preparing it to be installed in Henderson. All 13 of the employees at Brodin had a hand in the “couple thousands hours” of work owner Nick Christensen says it took to complete the statue.
“It was fun to work on,” Christensen said. They usually create police, military, and firefighter memorial statues, so this was something different for them all. Another fun project they recently completed was the Wizard of Oz characters, based on the original drawings of L. Frank Baum. That set of statues is now outside a library in Holland, Mich., complete with a yellow brick road of donors.
The Prince project has been in the works for about a year, with the final 3D rendering being approved last September.
“The body was done long ago,” Christensen said. They had to revise the head, including changing the hairstyle three times, and that was just recently finished.
Once the drawings were approved, the design was painstakingly executed in wax and in clay to be cast in bronze, in several pieces. The rhinestones on his sleeve, for instance, were individually placed by hand. The pieces are then welded together, with the seams carefully sanded and smoothed out. Sandblasting provides the final texture. Then comes coloring the statue: applying a permanent patina of shadows and highlights. The final step before installation is a clear coat to make it shiny and to protect against Minnesota weather.
On the Prince statue, a final sandblasting revealed a pinhole that had to be patched, and refinished, which they completed the day before installation.
By last Friday, word was all over Henderson that the statue was coming. Christensen was there at around 6 a.m. to install the finished statue, before any crowds would be gathered. Again, an official unveiling ceremony will take place June 7, 2021.
As of Saturday, though, the Prince statue is home in a little corner of Henderson, with a building-sized mural to his right, and a memorial bench to his left, surrounded by purple flowers and lots of love and adoration.
The Prince project is the brainchild of Joel King, Prince’s cinematographer for movies and videos. Artist and muralist Moises
Suriel designed it. The statue itself is based on a 1999 photo of Prince, and the personal vision of King. The Prince Legacy Henderson Project Inc. was started by King as a non-profit in 2018 to promote the legacy of Prince Rogers Nelson, a.k.a. Prince. Private donations were raised to pay for the statue, and there is a plaque with donor names on site.
Henderson is southeast of Glencoe, so visiting the statue won’t be difficult.
But you can have your very own Prince statue soon. Brodin Studios will produce a very limited quantity of individual, miniature statuettes in bronze on a purple resin base; each one will be numbered and presented in a collector’s box. You can watch for that announcement on the Facebook page of Brodin Studios Inc.