Photos: Prince Is Already Resting In Power On 2 New Chicago Murals
By Mae Rice in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 27, 2016 8:46PM
Prince passed away on Thursday, at the age of 57, and already two commemorative Prince murals have cropped up in Chicago. (That's not to mention the Garfield Park Conservatory's pond tribute, or the Prince dance parties and purple cupcakes sweeping the city.)
One mural can be found on an auto body shop in Avalon Park on Stony Island Avenue; another is in Logan Square, at roughly Fullerton and Sacramento, facing the Blue Line tracks. We spoke to the artists working on both pieces about their processes, their connections with Prince, and why neither mural is quite done yet.
The Avalon Park Mural
This mural, which we first learned of from DNAinfo, is the work of Rahmaan “Statik” Barnes, an artist born and raised in Chicago who’s been making murals in the city since 1997. He started on this particular mural at McArthur Auto Clinic (8051 S. Stony Island Ave.) this past Sunday, three days after Prince’s death, and he plans to have it finished by this coming Saturday “weather and work schedule permitting,” he told Chicagoist.
As of right now, it looks like a direct replica of Prince’s Purple Rain album cover, but Barnes told us it’s not done yet. He plans to add finishing touches that make Prince look like "a more divine, spiritual character,” he said—"maybe looking slightly angelic." He'll draw inspiration for this phase of the project from Baroque portraits of saints.
Barnes' connection with Prince started young. He was born in 1980—two years before 1999, and four before Purple Rain—to parents who were huge Prince fans. "I remember my parents going out to the record store and buying a Purple Rain album on 12-inch vinyl, and seeing that cover as a kid and always having the album playing in the background.”
This Prince piece is just one of the murals Barnes has made in Chicago over the years. He said that all told, he's done hundreds of projects in Chicago, though only 20 to 30 are left standing—the rest have been scrubbed, or their buildings have been demolished. Still, you've probably seen Barnes' work around town. He made the mural that decorates the underpass at 47th Street and Lake Park, and the Wicker Park mural on the back of what was once jewelry store The Silver Room. (It's now boutique Personal Privilege.)
The Logan Square Mural
This Prince mural, which was first reported in the Reader, replaced another Blue Line-facing mural of Chicago house DJ Frankie Knuckles. (Knuckles died in 2014.) It's on the second story of the building that houses X-It European Clothing Boutique at street level and, on the second floor, Look Better Hair Salon (2950 W. Fullerton Ave.).
"This mural’s gonna be the best mural in the whole city as far as anybody doing anything for Prince," Kel 4, a leader of J4F Krew, told Chicagoist. Around since the "late 80s," J4F (which stands for Just 4 Fun) has about 35 members, Kel said. Only half or so are working on this mural, though; the others are pitching in paint, money, and moral support.
Like Barnes' Prince mural, this one is also a work in progress. J4F is still filling in details. We spoke to Kel, 36, while he was working on the mural Wednesday afternoon (here's a photo gallery of him working on the mural). He said that today, he plans to fill in detail on Prince's face and finish up some black outlining, among other things. When the mural is finished, which it should be by Sunday, Kel told us it will also feature the message "All I want is to see you laugh"—a lyric from "Purple Rain"—across the top. Along the bottom of the mural, against a blue background, the mural will have the guitar sheet music for "Purple Rain."
"Everybody does little simple notes," Kel said, "and it's really easy to do." He and J4F wanted to go above and beyond, though.
Kel himself has been listening to Prince since he was a kid, when Prince was huge on the radio. "My family's all Mexican, so they weren't listening to that kind of stuff," he said, but Kel personally was listening to more hip-hop, and knew Prince well. Especially "Purple Rain."
"This is the main song, 'Purple Rain,'" he said, in explanation of the mural design. "If you see this"—say, on one of the trains barreling past the mural every few minutes—"you already know who we're talking about."