The Santa Monica Public Art Committee unanimously recommended that the recently-restored 26-foot tall ‘Chain Reaction’ peace sculpture be re-accessed back into the City’s public art collection. The committee voted 7-0 in favor of a motion put forward by committee chair Michael Masucci at their August 21 monthly public meeting held at the Ken Edwards Center in Santa Monica. At the meeting, a Friends of Chain Reaction petition was presented bearing more than 200 supportive signatures, including former Santa Monica Mayors Judy Abdo, James Conn, Michael Feinstein and Paul Rosenstein, many former and current S.M. Board and Commission members, artists, activists, educators and community leaders as well as Santa Monica Assemblyman Richard Bloom and Santa Monica Congressman Ted Lieu. More than 100 online signatures have also been collected.
The advisory resolution reads: The Santa Monica Public Art Committee endorses efforts to re-access Paul Conrad’s landmarked sculpture Chain Reaction to its former status as an official part of the Santa Monica Public Art collection and recommends to the Santa Monica Arts Commission that they support allocating staff resources to this matter.
The unique nuclear mushroom cloud-shaped sculpture and warning monument was designed and created by Paul Conrad, the late 3-time Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist. Mr. Conrad gifted the public art sculpture to Santa Monica and it has been standing in the City’s Civic Center since 1991. The construction cost was funded by a $250,000 donation made by late peace philanthropist Joan Kroc.
When the question of Chain Reaction’s structural integrity, safety concerns and estimated high restoration costs were being debated back in 2011, the Santa Monica Arts Commission and City Council voted to de-access the sculpture from the City’s public art collection. However, a motion was made at the time by Santa Monica Arts Commission chair Michael Myers to give Chain Reaction supporters some time to possibly raise funds to have the sculpture restored. That motion was supported by the Commission and Council. The community, through a dedicated and broad-based ‘Save Chain Reaction’ outreach and fundraising effort by a ‘Chain Gang’ of committed artists and activists, responded by raising more than $100,000 that was given to the City.
On July 9, 2012 the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission unanimously voted to officially designate Chain Reaction as a Santa Monica City Landmark.
The City ultimately voted to save and fully restore Chain Reaction as well as to add a landscaped ‘peace garden’ with solar uplighting that now encircles the creative sculpture.
The new added plaque the City placed at Chain Reaction highlights Paul Conrad’s timely inscription: This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph.
The supportive recommendation of the Public Art Committee will be on the agenda of the full Santa Monica Arts Commission before the end of the year after issues of ongoing maintenance, cost and other details are collaboratively worked out with the Arts Commission and Landmarks Commission said Arts Commission chair Myers.
Friends of Chain Reaction (facebook.com/FriendsOfChainRe
action) local peace activists Jerry and Marissa Rubin, who spoke at the meeting, said they are happy with the Public Art Committee’s supportive recommendation and are pleased with the City and Commission’s support for art, landmarks and peace. Other supportive speakers at the meeting were Santa Monica peace activists Cris Gutierrez and Randy Ziglar as well as former Santa Monica Arts Commission member haRa Beck.