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‘A full and fantastic evening’

Prince performs during the second day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., Saturday, April 26, 2008. (Chris Pizzello/Associated Press)

SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe will be just the second city to preview the new Prince documentary, “Mr. Nelson: On the North Side,” which features soundtrack music by local all-star band Belling the Cat.

Directed by Kirk Fera, the documentary so far has been showcased only to a limited audience in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis.

But on Friday, the documentary will be shown at several locations in Santa Fe as part of a full evening of events to benefit the Santa Fe Art Institute’s artists in residence program.

“It’s pretty interesting because it gets into the untold story of Prince and his upbringing in Minneapolis,” said Jamie Blosser, Art Institute executive director. “It tells how the black community on the northside of Minneapolis came to together to cultivate and support local talent and artists. This is very important because, societally, this shows where we were in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s something I had not heard of or seen before.”

The Art Institute is offering various packages for the screening, some of which include a cocktail reception and a panel discussion with Fera, musician Brian Hardgroove of Public Enemy fame and local film director Chris Eyre, whose movies include the acclaimed “Smoke Signals” and “Skins.”

The poster for “Mr. Nelson on the North Side,’ a new Prince documentary. (Courtesy of SFAI)

Additionally, the evening will conclude with a performance by Belling the Cat, a musical group which features Hardgroove – who was an artist in residence at the now-closed Santa Fe University of Art and Design – and long-time Santa Fe music scene leader Jono Manson, as well as Stephen Peace and John Kurzweg. A sample of their sound can be found on the group’s Facebook page – a merger of music from the Prince film and vocals by local actor Wes Studi in a piece that’s titled “Got My Eyes on America.”

“It’s a full and fantastic evening,” Blosser said of the fundraiser.

Billed as “Art of Change,” it’s the institute’s second annual event.

“Last year, we raised $40,000 and this year we’re hoping for $50,000,” she said. “We haven’t done anything quite like this. Every year is very different. But we want to bring in these notable characters and they’re all totally receptive. We want to bring them in and showcase why this work is so important, so critical to the health of our society.”

Having the band from the documentary was quite a coup, Blosser said, and greatly enhances the experience for people.

“Brian has been an amazing partner,” she said. “He came to us with some of these connections and wanted to know how we can work together because we believe that art can affect societal change.”

It’s also a great way for the new band to start getting out into the community, Blosser pointed out.

Brian Hardgroove, from Public Enemy, plays with his new Santa Fe band, Belling the Cat. (Courtesy of SFAI)

“It’s a great crew,” she said. “Obviously, to me, to be a total Prince fan, it’s exciting. And having Brian, it’s very exacting that he has the new band and what he wants to do with it in terms of the social justice and professional artists who can work together on social justice issues. It will be great to see where it will go in the future.”

The Art Institute regularly supports up to 70 artists annually who come in for residency programs for free, Blosser said.

Many of those artists’ work will be on display and for sale, as well, she said

“We’re also going to have on the walls a really nice art exhibit curated by our art director,” she said. “They’re all going to be from our current ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ theme and its coinciding with this incredible event. We’re also going to have experiences for purchase, like an evening of karaoke with a trained, professional singer. We’re just looking at a lot of different ways to get people’s attention and also have a really good time.”

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