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Santa Monica Split on Saving Crumbling Anti-Nuke Sculpture

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There may be clarity coming at last next week on the future of Santa Monica's corroding anti-nuke sculpture "Chain Reaction.". The work of Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist Paul Conrad, the 26-foot-tall mushroom cloud has been a fixture at the Santa Monica Civic Center since 1991, but its outlook has been murky since a report last year found the copper and fiberlgass artwork was in a bad way and liable to fall over--possibly on children--and estimates put the cost of repair as high as $550,000. Things got murkier still when the sculpture was given landmark status after the city had already voted to have it removed. It should be no surprise, then, that the latest chapter is also clear as mud. Santa Monica's community and cultural services director has recommended that $20,000 be spent to temporarily patch and secure the sculpture and that an additional $85,000 be set aside to match the community fundraising efforts led by Dave Conrad, son of the artist (who, according to Santa Monica Patch, thinks the repair estimates are way high and that the sculpture can be fixed for under $100,000). The proposal would give fundraisers one year to come up with the cash. That proposal was heard yesterday by the public arts commission, which voted for it, and by the arts commission, which voted against. Totally clear. The city council will vote on it next week.

For all this murkiness, Santa Monica has never been terribly thrilled with its mushroom cloud. When deciding whether or not to accept Paul Conrad's gift of a sculpture, a model was put on display in city hall. "Of those surveyed, 730 citizens recommended against the City accepting the sculpture and 392 citizens favored its acceptance," according to the staff report. [Image by ICF International via SM Patch].
· The Cost of Saving Santa Monica's Anti-Nuke Sculpture?[SM Patch]
· Santa Monica Nuke Sculpture Landmarked, Still Unsafe For Kids [Curbed]