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Santa Monica City Council Gives “Chain Reaction” Another Year

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

January 24, 2013 -- The Santa Monica City Council voted 6 to1 Tuesday to keep Paul Conrad's “Chain Reaction” sculpture standing for one more year to give supporters a chance to raise the money necessary to repair the iconic work.

Council members also voted to allocate $20,000 for temporary repairs to damage resulting from structural testing of the 22-year-old sculpture and set aside another $50,000 from the General Fund for further repairs if supporters can raise the money.

Estimates for repairs to the 26-foot-tall sculpture vary wildly. Art Conservationist Steve Colton believes the sculpture would cost $85,000 to repair, while City staff said it could cost as much as $423,000.

To date, supporters have only raised $8,700.

The Council decided to commit $50,000 because, “It's very important when fundraising to have a commitment,” said Council member Gleam Davis.

Dave Conrad, son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, said, “It sends the right message to potential donors.

“Now that the City is pledging money and support, it'll be a lot easier to get donations,” he said.

Conrad has begun working with local grant writer Abby Arnold to drum up the cash to save the sculpture, which was installed at the Civic Center in 1990.

Tuesday night's public comments showed that not everyone supported saving the sculpture. Several speakers said that the money used to save the sculpture would be better spent to fund other art projects in the City.

The staff report said that as much as $185,000 should be committed from the City's culture fund.

Proponents of saving the 26-foot-tall sculpture of a mushroom cloud made of chain link said the artwork sends an important message about world peace and nuclear disarmament.

Council member Kevin McKeown said, “We are voting on a sculpture; we are not voting on world peace.” Mayor Pam O'Connor agreed.

The future of the sculpture came into question when City officials noticed the sculpture swaying in the wind. Officials contend that the sculpture has become structurally unsound over the years and that it is a threat to public safety.

Council member Bob Holbrook cast the only vote against the motion.

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