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EXTRA LETTER: The Mayor of Gilroy California Writes To Pablo Picasso

12th December, 1939

Dear Mr. Picasso,

Please excuse the intrusion on you and your busy artistic timetable.

My name is Calvin Graves and I hold the esteemed position of incumbent Mayor to the wonderful town of Gilroy, CA. It’s a great place to live with many fine stores and large churches. Though, sadly, it doesn’t get quite as much attention as some of the other Californian big hitters such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Bakersfield. This is why I am writing to you now.

On a recent trip to New York City, my wife insisted we visit something called the Museum of Modern Art. At first I was reluctant and then quite aggressively insistent that we avoid such an institution in favor of viewing a new Broadway musical entertainment entitled Hot Patooties of 1939, which, I was reliably informed, is an absolute scream. However, my wife can be quite persuasive and angry, so we consequently attended the gallery.

And hot dog, I’m glad that we did as I came face to face with your great picture called Guernica! It really blew me away, I can tell you. I felt a lot of the stuff in that place was pure garbage, but your thing really cracked me up! The colors and the funny faces and all the goofy animals. It was a total hoot! And, according to the art guy who was standing next to it, the picture is considered a pretty big deal with big thinkers and smarty types and the whole caboodle has really put Guernica on the map.

So I was hoping we could get a little bit of that Guernica treatment for Gilroy. I think a big crazy picture by a great artisan like yourself that people can come and gawk at could really help boost our profile and publicize all the neat stuff we have to offer. Make our little town look as goofy as that Guernica place! We’ve got plenty of cows here, just like that big one you put in the picture, and our residents are as happy and excitable as the wacky fellows featured in your painting. While we’re lacking in horses of that particular shape and eye number, we do have an annual garlic festival that’s a pretty big deal around these parts. Do you think that could be included at all?

As for a title, can I suggest the name: Gilroy! And if you wouldn’t mind including a small portrait of myself somewhere in the thing, that would really help my upcoming re-election campaign. I’ve enclosed a small photograph of myself for reference. (I’m the one on the right wearing the enormous novelty hat reading ‘Lil Stinker’. I’d just won ‘Largest Bulb’ at the aforementioned garlic festival. The hat does not have to be included in the picture.) Also attached is a photo of Miss Loretta Carlisle who was last year’s Garlic Queen, If we can squeeze her in too, that would really help me out. I’ll explain the reasons why if we ever happen to meet.

Other than that, you have free rein to include whatever you fancy. The zanier the better in my opinion (though try to keep it as decent and ‘non-continental’ as possible). We plan to display it in the back room of the Elks Lodge, so best not to make it any bigger than four feet by nine. Otherwise we’ll have to take it through the window and that will be a whole other headache. I’ve already moved that pinball machine once this year and I’ll be darned if I’m doing it again.

If you can get it to us in the next 4 to 6 weeks (I’m not sure how quickly you put together such things) that would be peachy. We can pay $250. Maybe $300 if you provide a nice frame. And then we’ll have to get you out here (travel expenses not included) for the grand unveiling! We’ll put a spread on and Gus can play his trumpet and we’ll have a gay old time. Then maybe I can head out and see you over in Guernica. It looks like a pretty fun place!

All of us here at the City Arts and Garlic Committee are looking forward to you really Guernicaing up Gilroy to a degree beneficial to all. Take that Prunedale! (I’ll explain that joke to you if we ever happen to meet).

Your pal,

Calvin Graves (Mayor).

p.s. Apologies if this note smells garlicy. That stuff gets into everything around here. Though, being European, I guess you don’t mind so much.

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