The City of Trail has quietly reclaimed Picasso.
What’s that you ask?
It’s a metal statue from 1974 – a six-foot replica of The Chicago Picasso – that was removed from the Esplanade over a decade ago and dumped in a far corner of the city’s public works yard.
Badly in need of refurbishment, in the spring of 2018, this homage to the great Spanish painter, sculptor and lover, was headed for the scrap heap in the landfill.
That is until Coun. Carol Dobie jumped on board to save the controversial piece of art.
“It wasn’t so much the statue itself that was so important to me,” Dobie told the Trail Times. “It’s the story behind it, the historic value. I worked with Joe (Joe Szajbely) back in the 60’s and (heard) what he went through to get this done.”
The late Joe Szajbely, a former Cominco engineer, saw the original Picasso sculpture on a business trip and thought a replica was just the thing to top off the newly-constructed No. 9 Acid Plant.
As the story goes, without authorization from company management, Szajbely had a scale model of it fabricated in the Cominco shops with a plan to install it outside the new plant.
Apparently the Cominco powers-that-be didn’t share his vision, and instructed Szajbely to get rid of it.
That’s when he struck a deal with the city to erect it on the Esplanade, and that’s where the Picasso stood for 30+ years.
After being painted garish primary colours sometime in the 1970’s (no one takes credit for that) the weighty sculpture became wobbly over time, which is why the city took it down around 2007 and tucked it away in the works yard.
After Dobie heard about the statue’s fate and began the rather arduous task of reclaiming it last year, XL Quality Industrial Services salvaged it from the city lot. Through an in-kind donation, XL workers stripped the piece down to bare bones and refurbished it.
Now, Chicago Picasso aka – Trail Picasso – looks quite lovely standing tall in its new home outside the VISAC Gallery in downtown Trail.
Reclaiming Picasso is just the start if Coun. Dobie has any say in the matter.
It’s more about promoting the south side of Cedar Avenue as an up-and-coming vibrant arts district.
“When you come to Trail make sure you go down to our artistic area and see the gallery, the mural (new colourful mural across from The Bailey Theatre) and the statue,” Dobie said sharing her vision of what can be.
“I want to see us move ahead with change.”
Thanks to the in-kind craftsmanship from the XL crew, the cost for refurbishing the Trail Picasso was around $900, which covered the city’s labour and equipment.