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Fund to Save Santa Monica’s “Chain Reaction” Sculpture Tops $100,000

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

February 12, 2014 -- Supporters of Santa Monica’s “Chain Reaction” sculpture announced Tuesday that they had raised more than $100,000 to help pay for repairs to the artwork.

The announcement comes two weeks before the City Council will rule on whether to fund an estimated $500,000 in repairs that City officials say the two-decade-old sculpture by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad desperately needs.

“I think it is very exciting that the community has come together” to save this sculpture, said Jessica Cusick, Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs manager.

Much of the money raised for the sculpture came in small increments, according to Dave Conrad, the late artist’s son.

“I think it’s neat that it was done with little donations,” he said, adding that the biggest single donation to the cause was $25,000.

Last December, City staff reversed its position that the sculpture should be removed because of wear-and-tear over the last 20 years and instead said that the City Council should fund the sculpture’s repairs.

City officials had originally maintained that fixing the sculpture -- a 26-foot-tall facsimile of a mushroom cloud made entirely of chains -- would be too expensive.

However, the City Council voted in March 2012 to give activists a chance to raise the money necessary for repairs.

By last December, they had raised about $40,000 to support the cause.

“"In part due to the substantial amount the community has raised that we feel justified in making this recommendation to Council," said Cusick.

Since then, activists have doubled the amount of money raised.

“It’s a possibility that the backing of the City was helpful” raising funds, said Conrad. “We had been hoping for that all along.”

While the Council will ultimately decide the future of “Chain Reaction” Tuesday, Conrad is “cautiously optimistic” that his father’s statue will be around for another generation to see.

“The big battle has been won,” he said. “I couldn’t have done this without the help of a whole lot of people.”

Conrad singled out the “Chain Gang,” a group of about 30 volunteers who stumped for the project.

If the Council votes to fund the repairs, City officials will subject the sculpture to more testing before they “come up with a plan for complete restoration,” said Cusick.

That process could take about three months, she said.

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