Chain Reaction (File photo)
Chain Reaction (File photo)

Six former Santa Monica mayors have come out in support of a controversial sculpture which will be removed from the Civic Center lawn if proponents cannot gather the money needed to repair it.

Judy Abdo, Jim Conn, Michael Feinstein, Paul Rosenstein, Nat Trives and Denny Zane wrote an open letter urging anyone who will listen to pitch in for “Chain Reaction,” a monumental sculpture by three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Paul Conrad.

“With the city, the Conrad family, artists and students, as well as the local and global peace community all helping, we can create a positive chain reaction of support for ‘Chain Reaction,'” the group wrote.

Supporters have a long row to hoe if they intend to raise the $555,000 that city officials believe may be needed to fully restore the statute, although other professional conservators have put the figure as low as $85,000. The statute has deteriorated somewhat because of exposure to the elements.

In January, the City Council put a deadline of Feb. 1, 2014 to raise the cash. As of Tuesday, there was only $10,382 in the account held by the Community & Cultural Services Department to collect donations for “Chain Reaction.”

Dave Conrad, the artist’s son, believes it will be easier to raise the capital needed now that City Hall has given a concrete figure and that the group has found a grant writer to help reach nonprofits that might be interested in saving the work.

Previously, supporters had complained that city officials waited until September to provide an estimate of the costs needed to repair the statue after the City Council gave them a Nov. 15 deadline to gather the money.

In the meantime, the Landmarks Commission voted to give landmark designation to “Chain Reaction,” which became the first piece of public art to win such recognition in the city.

That new status comes with strings — although City Hall can petition to remove the sculpture, it must provide an environmental impact report to do so. Those documents are notoriously expensive.

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