Written by Crystal Glanz-Kreutz
If you are a local to Portland (but especially St. Johns), you may know Liz Smith, aka: Bizzy Lizzie. Liz is a warm, engaging, and gregarious woman who is bursting with talents. She is the owner of Bizzy Lizzie Social Media Marketing, President of Venture Portland, President of the St. Johns Business Boosters, and a small business coach through the St Johns Center for Opportunity… as you may have inferred, Liz wears many hats. An interesting thing about Liz is that she is always drawing connections between people and industries, she is a natural at it; it is in her blood. One of those connections she recently told us about is that her grandfather is the late William E. Hartmann, a globally known architect and major influencer of the Chicago skyline.
Mr. Hartmann was a managing partner of SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) during the post WWII peak of building and urban development in Chicago. Having managed SOM for well over 30 years, his influence on the city is undeniable, often through examples of post-war modern buildings like the Inland Steel Building and the Daley Center. Just like his granddaughter today, William brought people and industries together. He believed that his role as the architect was to design the building and space, and that it was best to let artists adorn them. Over the years, he became quite the steward of art and culture, he served on the board of the Art Institute, and he brought in Joan Miro and other mid-century artists as collaborators for SOM projects.
Perhaps most notably, William personally persuaded Picasso to create the sculpture that stands in the Daley Center Plaza. Using his own warm and engaging personality, William would visit Picasso in the French Riviera and send care packages of Chicago; photographs, gifts, memorabilia of the Cubs and the Bears… eventually the two men became friends. Although Picasso himself never visited Chicago, he gained a sense of the city through Mr. Hartmann and agreed to design the public work of art. In 1966 Pablo Picasso was 85 years old, internationally known, and regarded as one of the most influential artists off the 20th Century. Incredibly, Picasso gifted his sculpture and the rights to its reproduction to Mr. Hartmann and the City of Chicago. It took 3 months’ time to construct the 50 foot, 162 ton sculpture, but on August 15th, 1967 an estimated 50,000 Chicagoans gathered in the courtyard of the Daley Building for the unveiling of the untitled work of Picasso. The Chicago Picasso, as it is commonly referred to, still stands there in the courtyard today. Hartmann and Picasso remained friends until Picasso’s passing in 1973.
If you would like to learn more about the life and times of the architect, artist champion, and cultural influencer, Mr. William Hartmann, you can read the Oral History of William Hartmann by Betty Blum.
To learn more about the Chicago Picasso and the Daley Center Building, you can visit their website here.