Chicago’s Picasso sculpture at Daley Plaza turns 50

CHICAGO— A work of public art that initially bewildered and displeased many Chicagoans — only to later become a city icon — is turning 50.

Chicago is marking the 1967 unveiling of the Pablo Picasso sculpture with events like films and lectures throughout August, including music performances Tuesday at Daley Plaza where it stands.

Chicago columnist Mike Royko famously described the tepid applause from a disappointed crowd of VIPs as the Cubist structure was unveiled 50 years ago. He wrote some people "just stood there, frowning or blank-faced." Royko said with some admiration that it looked like "a giant insect that is about to eat a smaller, weaker insect."

But the sculpture grew on Chicagoans and it became a popular tourist attraction. It’s become a playground of sorts for kids and adults visiting Daley Plaza.

"I love it; I liked when i was here 50 years ago at the unveiling and it looks better today than it did then," said Chicago resident Lou Conlon.

Mike and Pat Shymanski were also there 50 years ago. They had come downtown to pick up their marriage license and decided to stay for the unveiling. Today they were back to take part in the celebration.

"It makes it a place where you can reach out, touch and feel part of Chicago," Pat said.

The daughter of Gwendolyn Brooks also read the poem her mother read 50 years ago.

"She would have been so excited, just the idea of something coming back 50 years later that we’re still here to applaud this piece," Nora Brooks Blakely said.