The imperiled statue, and the activist trying to save it

Update: The Santa Monica city council decided not to allocate money to restore the sculpture and supporters have until November 15th to raise the necessary funds. It could cost up to $427,000 to fix according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Tonight’s a big night in the ongoing saga of Chain Reaction, the 26-foot tall fiberglass mushroom cloud outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that was erected over 20 years ago. Santa Monica’s city council will meet and discuss the fate of the sculpture, created by Pulitzer prize winning artist Paul Conrad as a more dimensional expression of his anti-war politics than the political cartoons he became famous for in the LA Times.

Years of salty ocean air have eroded Chain Reaction’s infrastructure; while it would cost up to about half a million dollars to fix it,  it would only take 10-grand or so to take it down.

Santa Monica peace activist Jerry Rubin (not to be confused with the now-deceased famous Yippie) has been leading the charge to save this piece of public art. He’s enlisted the help of Paul Conrad’s widow and son, and the maker of a PBS documentary about the late cartoonist… all in advance of the landmark commission meeting April 9th that could force local government to keep Chain Reaction alive.

You can see the film “Paul Conrad: Drawing Fire” on April 1st for free at Vidiots on Pico Boulevard, or, if you’re inclined, attend the public meeting of council tonight at 6:30.

UPDATE (March 21st)  Jerry Rubin says The Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously to allow community fundraising efforts to begin to save and restore the statue.  They’ve got till November 12th to raise the money.

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2 Comments »

  • Jess said:

    Santa Monica can afford it… and that's a really important piece of public art. Perhaps if they'd maintained it properly all these years it wouldn't be facing its demise.

  • Brendan said:

    I couldn't agree more Jess. Unfortunately, Santa Monica hasn't made public art one of its budget priorities, like Manhattan Beach has.

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