In this town its known strictly as "the Picasso." Proudly perched in front of the Richard J Daley center the unveiling of this landmark sculpture announced Chicago's ascension into the ranks of the world's major international cities. It's been featured in major movies like The Fugitive and The Blues Brothers and it's popularity among locals grows with each passing year. But it may surprise many Chicago citizens to know that a ball club on the south side of Chicago that we know as "the Sox" helped play a role in bringing the monument to Chicago.
Back in 1963, the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owens and Merrill commissioned a work for the plaza at the Richard J. Daley center with Pablo Picasso being their first choice to undertake the project. Picasso, however, was averse to taking public commissions. He disliked the constraints imposed by them and was inclined to pass on the project. Picasso's disinclination did not deter Bill Hartman, a senior partner at SMO, from jumping on a big bird to the south of France to push for the project. Upon meeting Picasso, Hartman presented him with a package of gifts which included a White Sox jersey.
After much discussion Picasso agreed to take up the project and the completed "Picasso" was presented to the City of Chicago in 1967. On that day, the mayor of Chicago, Richard J Daley prophetically stated: "We dedicate this celebrated work this morning with the belief that what is strange to us today will be familiar tomorrow." While north side Ald. John J. Hoellen recommended that the City Council "deport" the piece and construct in its place a statue of "Mr. Cub . . . Ernie Banks." As usual, the south side came out on top of that debate.
While there are no known photos of Picasso working in a White Sox jersey we at the Bnews are confident that the uniform once donned by Sox greats like Nellie Fox and Hoyt Wilhelm inspired the Spanish artist in creating his great gift to Chicago.