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After seven years of planning, Prince mural unveiled Thursday

Painted by muralist Hiero Veiga, the tribute to Prince stands 100 feet tall and is located downtown Minneapolis at First Avenue and 8th Street.

MINNEAPOLIS — After seven long years of planning, fundraising, and securing the location, Thursday, the Crown our Prince mural initiative is excited to unveil a massive mural of the groundbreaking Minnesota native in the heart of the downtown theater district.

The 100-foot-tall mural, painted by Miami-based muralist Hiero Veiga, depicts portraits taken of Prince at three separate points in his career. It sits at 1st Avenue and 8th Street, on the side of parking Ramp A.

Organizers who spent years on the initiative said it's surreal to see the mural finally take shape.

"It’s very emotional for me because I started this seven years ago when Prince was still alive," said Sharon Smith-Akinsanya, CEO of Rae Mackenzie Group and co-organizer of the Crown our Prince project. "We had conversations in 2015. I used to work for him. It was devastating when we lost him just a year later. But we did know he was okay with the mural. So we did get that much information out."

Credit: Robert Whitman
Photographer Robert Whitman's portrait of Prince early in his career is featured at the bottom of the mural.

Muralist Hiero Veiga was selected unanimously from a pool of 60 muralists worldwide.

Co-organizer Joan Vordenbruggen said Veiga is the right artist to bring the mural to life.

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"Hiero Veiga has this capability to create photo-real large-scale portraiture, which is something that a lot of different artists do, but he also just has an amazing hyper-realistic, larger-than-life [technique]," Vorderbrugggen said. "So we were really excited to be able to bring him here and to be able to manifest this design."

To secure the location and turn the mural into a reality, Vorderbruggen and Smith-Akinsanya raised nearly $500,000 in fundraising from major sponsors including U.S. Bank, Target, the Twins, McKnight Foundation, Thrivent, and Best Buy. 

For the next 30 years, the mural will be maintained by the Downtown Council of the City of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota.

Vorderbruggen hopes it allowed people to "really recognize and appreciate what Prince has meant to this area and what he continues to mean to Minneapolis and to the world."

Thursday evening at 7 p.m., the mural will be unveiled at a Purple Block Party. The event is free and open to the public and will feature live music, food trucks, a ceremony recognizing the work that went into bringing the mural downtown, and a lightshow. The event will go until 10 p.m.

RELATED: When purple reigned: A 1985 Prince concert finds a new life

On Thursday morning Prince's half-sister Sharon Nelson spoke with KARE 11 Sunrise about the mural and what she thought he would think about the seven-year project. You can watch that interview below: 

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