6 min read

The Twin Trees Across the Street from the Prince Mural

The Twin Trees Across the Street from the Prince Mural

I love city trees. They’re a primary interest and ongoing subject of my work. Last year, I published an essay on The Guardian of Dead Tree in Queens, and since then, I’ve been following a similar template in documenting trees in Minneapolis since my arrival last August.

One pair of trees I’ve been focusing on is in the shadow of the Prince Mural on the corner of N 1st Ave and N 9th St.

The Prince Mural is a 100-foot-tall tribute to the legendary music icon created by Florida-based street artist Hiero Veiga. It overlooks First Avenue, the music venue immortalized in "Purple Rain." Right above the trees, another mural by local artist Reggie LeFlore celebrates the talents of the city's youth, commemorating the X Games’ tenure in downtown Minneapolis.

I find this location fascinating because it combines my interest in public art, trees, urban greenery, and the visual experience of walking. It’s a triangular island surrounded by a massive parking ramp, the Target Center, and First Ave across the street. You’d think it would be pedestrian-friendly, but it’s actually a bit hazardous due to the car traffic generated by the surrounding parking structures.

It’s an odd location, as you can see from the aerial view in the image above. Looking at it from this perspective deepens my interest in the location. The idiosyncrasy within the downtown grid, integration with public art, and greenery make it a prime location for a diachronic project. Since the mural is only a few years old, I'm curious how the location will evolve over time.

Prince Mural, May 18, 2023

When I visited Minneapolis in May of 2023, I made two photographs of the mural but didn't notice the tree even though it landed in the frame. I liked the second photograph because it integrated a few elements, including the odd greenery used as a recycling dumpster and the Ramp A skyway connecting to the stadiums.

October 6, 2023

Later that year, after I relocated to Minneapolis, I took a rainy day walk through the skyway. I ended up on the skyway overlooking First Avenue, right above the Prince Mural. I made this photograph but again wasn't thinking about the trees even though they were clearly dead in the center of the frame. Perhaps subconsciously, I had noticed them and was making a visual note for myself.

May 19, 2024

I walk down First Avenue regularly, so I had seen the mural several times during the winter but didn't take any photographs. Then in May, on a sunny day, I crossed the street and ended up looking right at the tree. Its leaves were barren. I made a photograph, but it was terrible, so I'm not showing it. But that doesn't matter. It was on that walk that I realized I should start making photographs of it.

I went back on May 19th, and this time, I made several photographs.

May 19, 2024

Ramp A is one of the large parking ramps primarily used for Twins and Timberwolves games. It's also a transit stop for the Metro BRT C/D line, which runs right in front of my apartment a few blocks down.

I've tentatively started making some photographs around Minneapolis with buses in the frame. I figured I might as well add transit into the mix and see where it goes.

May 19, 2024

I stood at the crosswalk and looked at the tree. I was mesmerized. What an odd location for a pair of trees. It was almost perfect. Everything about the location fascinated me. It had been growing over time, and perhaps it required those initial photographs to trigger something in my mind. But now I was fully engaged. In the zone. I knew this was one of the spots I wanted to document.

May 19, 2024

This is probably the most interesting photograph of the batch. I remembered the day Prince died back in 2016. I was working at B&H Photo in Manhattan and read a rumor on Twitter that he had died. I watched all the clips of Minneapolitans pouring into the street, right around this location across from First Avenue, to mourn his death. There will likely never be another icon as influential and popular to come out of Minnesota as Prince.

When people think of Minneapolis, they most likely associate the city with cold winters and Prince.

It wasn't until after Prince died that I started to listen to his music. Of course, I knew the hits: "1999," "When Doves Cry," "Kiss," and others. Those are staples of 80s pop music, forever cemented in pop culture history as defining songs from the decade. But Prince was also known as a prolific artist. His vault of unreleased music is the stuff of legend.

Thanks to Spotify, I was able to go through most of his catalog and pick out a wider selection. You can listen to my Prince list if you want. It's okay. I could probably go deeper, but honestly, it gets tough. Some of his stuff is hard for me to listen to.

June 4, 2024

Now that I was locked into the location, I knew I had options. This is where photography starts to become really interesting for me. I've started to chase the light again after many years of not caring about it, which is kind of liberating in a sense. But then again, photography is all about light, and it truly does change how you see, especially that beautiful magic hour light.

It makes me see the location in different ways. Step back. Add more elements. Let it rip. I know I'll be back again soon.

June 7, 2024

When there's an event, the crosswalks get busy with people walking to First Avenue and other parts of the entertainment district. I'm a bit hesitant to make anything too candid. This photograph is probably an outtake in the long run, but it's illustrative of my thinking and how I want to play with more elements in the frame. I just missed the nice light on this day. That happens.

June 9, 2024

I've been striking out the last week, but I keep trying. There are going to be several days of storms this week, so maybe I'll get back up into the skyway for a new photograph from that perspective. How long can this go on? I don't know. Anything can happen. The location has been activated. The seasons will change, and I'll change. I suspect one day I'll arrive, and the trees will be gone. Until then, I'll keep making photographs as long as I'm making my walks in Minneapolis.

June 9, 2024

I’m an artist and marketing specialist living in Minneapolis. This is my newsletter on art, walking, urbanism and mindfulness.

Each issue, I share new work from my projects and try to make connections between ideas, articles and people that fascinate me. You can follow me on Instagram.