February 27, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Open Letter: The ‘Chain Reaction’ Peace Sculpture Deserves to be Reinstated as Part of Santa Monica’s Public Art Collection

By Jerry Rubin and Marissa Rubin
Paul Conrad’s 26-foot tall nuclear mushroom cloud peace sculpture ‘Chain Reaction’, which has now been fully refurbished, is still  standing in the Santa Monica Civic Center, where it has been proudly standing since 1991. That’s when Paul Conrad, the 3-time Pulitzer Prize winning political cartoonist, created the unique 5.5 ton sculpture with a $250,000 construction donation (anonymously at the time) from peace philanthropist Joan Kroc. And that’s when Mr. Conrad decided to gift the sculpture as a public art donation to our art friendly city.
 
In 2011, Santa Monica City staff became concerned that the sculpture might not be structurally safe. And that there might not be enough funds to make sure it could be fully restored. So, in early 2012 the Santa Monica Arts Commission recommended that the City support the deaccession of ‘Chain Reaction’ from its public art collection. Michael Myers, the chair of the Arts Commission made an amendment that would give the community some time to possibly raise funds to save the sculpture and have it refurbished. The fundraising amendment and deaccession motion were passed and the City Council voted to support the Art Commission’s recommendations. Structural testing was proposed and initiated by the City. Many varied cost estimates were provided. Community fundraising began.
 
Then, on July 9, 2012 the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission unanimously voted to officially declare ‘Chain Reaction’ a city landmark.
 
The City Council later gave the community more fundraising time. And people came forward to step up the ’Save Chain Reaction’ fundraising efforts. With the help and determination of a dedicated “Chain Gang” team, more than $100,000 was raised.
 
Rod Gould, the former Santa Monica City Manager appreciated the community efforts and recommended to the City Council that they accept the funds and add whatever the difference would be to fully restore this now-landmarked sculpture.
 
And our new City Manager Rick Cole has been very supportive, as has our entire City Council.
 
The recent ‘Chain Reaction Peace Sculpture Public Rededication Ceremony’ was a meaningful and unifying event. The community,  the Mayor, former Mayors, City staff, Landmarks Commissioners and the Conrad family were all present. The restored creative sculpture was highlighted. The protective fences that had been surrounding it for many years have been removed. A beautiful and sustainable landscaped ‘peace garden’ now encircles it. Solar powered uplighting highlight the monumental sculpture after the sun has set. And, the ceremony was held on the evening before the late Paul Conrad’s birthday. Mr. Conrad was born June 27,1924 in Cedar Rapids, IA and passed away of natural causes on September 4, 2010 at his home in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA with his family by his side.
 
Paul Conrad was truly an amazing artist and a wonderful peacemaker. His message inscription on ‘Chain Reaction’ is still timely and important: This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph.  
 
But, to bring the ‘Chain Reaction’ issue full circle and to a most honorable conclusion, the Santa Monica Arts Commission and City Council should proudly support the return of the now-landmarked and former highlighted public art piece back into the City’s public art collection.
Do you have a Letter to the Editor? Email editor@smmirror.com.
in Opinion
Related Posts

S.M.a.r.t Column: Gelson’s Looms Large

February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Our guest column this week is by SMCLC (the Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City). SMCLC is a well-established...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Top Toady Town

February 18, 2024

February 18, 2024

Throughout history, from the ancient Romans and Assyrians to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, siege warfare has served as an...

S.M.a.r.t Column: The Sunset of Home Ownership

February 11, 2024

February 11, 2024

We are watching the sunset of our historical and cultural American dream of home ownership as we now are crossing...

SMa.r.t. Column: B(U)Y RIGHT

February 4, 2024

February 4, 2024

“By Right” state housing laws that give developers, in certain projects, the ability to ignore codes ‘by right.’ Well, that...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Serf City

January 28, 2024

January 28, 2024

Homelessness is a problem in California, and nowhere is this more evident than in our fair city, where the unhoused...

S.M.a.r.t  Column: Bond Fatigue

January 22, 2024

January 22, 2024

Last week’s SMart article,  described two critical problems faced by our Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD): the declining...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Peace on Earth

December 27, 2023

December 27, 2023

We are all, by now, saturated with jingles, holiday cards, “ho ho ho’s,” countless commercial advertisements, and exhortations to feel...

S.M.a.r.t Column: On the Clock with Mayor Brock

December 17, 2023

December 17, 2023

I became Santa Monica’s Mayor on Tuesday, December 12, 2023, following a simple “switch of the chairs” transition with outgoing...

S.M.a.r.t Column: SANTA MONICA CITY COUNCIL 2024

December 10, 2023

December 10, 2023

Position:Seeking Santa Monica City Council Candidate(s) Introduction:Exciting opportunity for the right candidate(s) to work with like-minded Council members committed to...

S.M.a.r.t Column: ARB (NOT Ready to Build!)

December 3, 2023

December 3, 2023

Santa Monica City’s Architectural Review Board (ARB), established in 1974, acts “…to preserve existing areas of natural beauty, cultural importance...

SMa.r.t. Column: We are thankful for….

November 27, 2023

November 27, 2023

SMa.r.t. would like to wish you all a great Thanksgiving with friends and family and also to thank its readers...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Make the City New Again

November 19, 2023

November 19, 2023

When the COVID crisis struck, it cut the city’s income in half, demolishing many businesses and causing widespread layoffs and...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Four Futures

October 29, 2023

October 29, 2023

As well described by Paul Krugman, all cities have a core competency: things they do well or better regionally or...

SMa.r.t column: Beautiful Quartz Countertops Are Hurting Workers and Should Be Banned

October 9, 2023

October 9, 2023

Quartz countertops are super popular because they’re tough and can handle stains, scratches, and heat. But there’s a big problem:...

S.M.a.r.t Column: Architect’s Son Reflects On Civic Auditorium

October 2, 2023

October 2, 2023

Welton (David) Becket (1902-1969), pictured above, backed by a picture of our Civic Auditorium, was the designer of that famed...