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Santa Monica's Chain Reaction Gets Reprieve  

 

By Jason Islas
Lookout Staff

March 22, 2012 -- Santa Monica's "Chain Reaction" sculpture will remain standing for at least another eight months after the City Council voted unanimously to allow local activists and community members a chance to raise funds to preserve the iconic art work.

Champions of the sculpture in the Civic Center have until November 15 to raise the money needed to repair artist Paul Conrad's 26-foot sculpture of a mushroom cloud that City officials say poses a danger to public safety.

In the meantime, the council voted to move forward with further studies to determine the extent of the repairs needed and the projected costs of those repairs.

The late Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist's family -- which hopes to help raise the money -- turned out Tuesday to advocate for saving the sculpture.

 “Paul loved Santa Monica and was very grateful that they allowed him to put Chain Reaction in such a prominent place," said Kay Conrad, the artist's widow. “This sculpture represents one of the greatest things that [Paul] did as an artist, but more importantly, as an activist."

David Conrad, the artist's son, urged the Council to do all in its power to save Santa Monica's “most meaningful and important works of art.”

The 22-year-old sculpture was deemed unsafe after structural engineers retained by the City found that many of the fasteners that attach the copper tubing chain to the fiberglass core were either missing, not fully imbedded or exhibited severe corrosion.

City Staff estimates that preserving the statue could cost anywhere from $227,372 to $423,172, and that there is no guarantee how long the repairs would last.

More tests will need to be conducted to determine the exact cost of making the statue safe, according to staff.

Noting that the sculpture was originally built for $250,000, David Conrad said, “It occurs to me that another 'Chain Reaction' could be built from scratch for the amounts quoted.”

Removing the statue, staff estimates, would cost approximately $20,000.

If the funds aren't raised by November 15, the City will move forward with the “deaccession” process, which means that the sculpture would first be offered to Conrad's family or any arts institute of their choosing.

In April, the Landmarks Commission is scheduled to discuss whether designating the sculpture a landmark would be the right step to take.

 


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