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“Chain Reaction” Sculpture Could Regain Spot in Santa Monica’s Public Art Collection


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

August 23, 2017 -- Santa Monica’s recently restored “Chain Reaction” sculpture could be headed back to its former status as part of the City’s public art collection.

An advisory-only city committee Monday reportedly recommended the 26-foot tall piece of art near the Civic Center be restored to the City’s art collection.

The recommendation by the Public Art Committee also asks the City Arts Commission to earmark staff resources to the effort.

Paul Conrad's "Chain Reaction"

Created by late L.A. Times political cartoonist Paul Conrad, the iconic anti-war sculpture, shaped as a mushrooming A-bomb blast, fell on hard times several years ago.

The City Council -- worried about the artwork’s need for costly repairs -- decided to return the sculpture to Conrad’s family or an art institution chosen by the family.

The council also voted to “de-access” the sculpture from the City’s public art collection.

"Chain Reaction" (Courtesy City of Santa Monica)

It won a reprieve in March of 2012, when the council gave fans of the piece time to raise funds for its restoration ("Santa Monica's Chain Reaction Gets Reprieve," March 22, 2012).

A “Save Chain Reaction” drive led by Conrad’s son, David Conrad, raised about $100,000 and the council subsequently voted to pay for the rest of the repair work ("Fund to Save Santa Monica’s “Chain Reaction” Sculpture Tops $100,000," February 12, 2014).

It was a gift from Conrad, and has been standing in the Civic Center a quarter of a century.

Friends of Chain Reaction say the sculpture is more timely than ever.

“It is very obvious that Public Art of Peace is as important today as it has ever been in the history of this country and the world,” Tim O’Connor, a supporter, wrote on the organization’s Facebook page.

“So many wars around the world are happening today and our country is involved in a majority of them.,” the post said. “War will not resolve much in any of them but dialog and discussion is a better alternate. Peace is the way to a safer world.”

The City’s Landmark’s Commission voted to designate Chain Reaction as a City landmark in 2012 ("Chain Reaction” Becomes Santa Monica’s Newest Landmark," July 11, 2012).


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