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October 15, 2021

Committee takes back time capsule

Gilroy’s 150th anniversary time capsule, which was unveiled Sept. 13, has been removed, after controversy arose over its artwork.

Mayor Marie Blankley announced at the beginning of the Oct. 4 meeting that the sesquicentennial committee rescinded the gift and removed it from city hall. The council was scheduled to consider accepting the gift at the meeting, but the item was pulled.

During the council’s comment period after the Sept. 13 unveiling, Councilmember Rebeca Armendariz said she was concerned about the capsule artwork’s “lack of diversity.”

The next meeting filled the council chambers with a split number of people, who either showed up to support artist Carol Peters or question the decision behind the artwork.

Each side of the capsule features people and places from Gilroy’s history, including Old City Hall, cowboy Casey Tibbs and his horse Warpaint, and two of the Gilroy Garlic Festival’s founders, Don Christopher and Val Filice.

Committee Chair Amanda Rudeen said the group decided to reclaim the capsule because “the present was not received with the spirit it was given, and the celebratory nature of the event is no longer present.”   

“There was a lot of work that went into this, and it is incredibly frustrating that it was only judged on the outside, not on what was actually in the box,” she said.

Rudeen added that, beyond the original group of volunteers, no one chose to get involved in the project and the sesquicentennial celebrations, despite “ample opportunity.”

“We were not an official City committee, we were a group of volunteers asked by the former mayor to come up with different ways to celebrate Gilroy’s 150th anniversary in 2020,” she said. “The time capsule was not representative of the land, or the thousands of years of history of the area, and was never meant to be. The artwork was just something to cover up the metal material the box was made from.”

Rudeen said the committee trusted Peters’ artistic judgment.

“There was no direction given to the artist because there was no way we could foresee that artwork on a metal box would be political,” she said.

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