Back in April, artist Christine Stein made rounds with her gorgeous and inventive Prince mural that she strategically placed by a blooming shrub that stood in for The Artist’s bulbous ‘fro. The piece, painted plywood that stood outside her Citrus Heights, Calif. home, attracted tons of attention all over the internet and even inspired fans to make a pilgrimage to her house so they could photograph themselves with the Man in Purple.
I recently spoke with Stein to find out what inspired her work and what it’s like to have strangers continuously showing up at your doorstep.
TLW: Where did the idea for the piece come from – specifically, using a mural for his face and the tree for his hair?
Christine Stein: I had a prior mural before that. It was of Bob Ross—he was an inspiration to me as a kid. He used to paint “happy trees” and I live in Sacramento County, and Sacramento is “The City of Trees.” So I took that mural and put it on a tree and called it “Bob Ross the Happy Tree.” Several months later the mural disintegrated in the rain because I made it out of cardboard. I held a vote of what I should do next and Jimi Hendrix won. At the last minute, I changed it to Prince because I was inspired by a picture I saw on Facebook.
How many people have traveled to your house to take photos with it?
I am not sure how many, but I know it’s a lot. They come from all over. I sometimes meet with them, and sometimes I see pictures online of people visiting it.
Does that creep you out at all when people post photos outside your house?
It only creeps me out when people start taking pictures of the inside of my house, which I’ve caught them doing on on my security cameras several times. I have since covered my windows.
What have the reactions been like from those who visited it in person?
It takes their breath away. Some people just stand there admiring it. Some people have picnicked on my lawn and made a day of it even though it’s private property.
How big of a Prince fan are you?
I am by no means as big a fan as the fans who come see the mural. They are die-hard fans.
What inspired you to create this piece?
I was listening to his song, “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” when I heard he died. I clicked on a link to a Billboard article about a Facebook Q&A where Prince only answered one question, and it was about 432hz. That’s when I knew how the whole mural was going to come out.
Were you surprised that it went viral?
This was the second time it went viral. The first time (in 2016), I wasn’t surprised because I sent out press releases to have it covered. The second time came from a cute picture on Easter morning. If I knew it was going to go viral, I would have done a better job of being prepared for all these interviews. But yes, the second time it went viral, I was surprised.