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|Funds to Save Santa Monica Sculpture Falling Far Short|
By Jason Islas
June 28, 2012 -- With only five months left to save Santa Monica’s “Chain Reaction” sculpture, activists have only raised $2,495 -- one-hundredth of what officials estimate is needed to repair the iconic structure.
The fundraising effort -- spearheaded by the family of the artist, late Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad -- began more than three months ago when the City Council voted to give the community until November to raise enough money to save the mushroom cloud-shaped sculpture at the Civic Center.
City officials estimate it would cost between $227,372 and $423,172 to repair the 26-foot-tall structure made of heavy chain link after tests revealed the 22-year-old sculpture's fiber glass frame was corroded and posed a possible danger.
Jessica Cusick, cultural affairs manager for the City, said, “At this point in time, they would need a major donor,” though she said added that it was “very impressive” to see what the grassroots movement had accomplished.
The artist’s son, David Conrad, said he plans to seek a major donor, but first needs a revised cost estimate, since large foundations need a concrete figure.
Conrad, who was on his way to celebrate what would have been his father’s 88th birthday Wednesday, said further tests have revealed the damage is not as severe as originally thought.
“It’s not about to topple,” Conrad said. “It’s not a safety risk.”
He also said that the City “way overestimated the cost to restore it.”
Less extensive damage means that the cost of repairs should be revised down, Conrad said, but he’s still waiting on a final estimate from the City.
City building officer Ron Takiguchi said that the original price range would not be revised because the City is not up on the day-to-day prices of the materials that would be involved in repair.
He did say that the structure is not in immediate danger of collapsing under its own weight, but added that he could not say whether it would survive an earthquake or some other disaster.
In a few weeks, the City will make its final report on the structure, but Takiguchi said that it would be “inconclusive."
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