A sign instructs the public to avoid the 'Chain Reaction' sculpture. (File photo)

City officials have indicated that City Hall may be willing to pay for repairs for the controversial “Chain Reaction” sculpture, reversing their previous stance that private donors should fund the restoration. The City Council will decide the matter in the next few months.

So, this week’s Q-Line question asks:

Do you think it’s a good idea for City Hall to pay for the repairs that some estimate may cost as much as $400,000? If not, why?

‘Chain Reaction’ (File photo)

Here are your responses:


“This money spent for restoring seems outrageously high. There are so many other pressing issues in this city. For instance, I’d rather the city spend money posting no smoking signs at bus stops and other areas where smoking is not permitted. They do nothing to enforce the no smoking laws and it’s one more reason not to visit Downtown.”


“I strongly support City Hall maintaining its art and landmarks, particularly the wonderful landmark ‘Chain Reaction,’ expressing our hope for a future of peace without nuclear weapons.”


“The city should have more important use for their money than to pay for a rusting pile of junk to satisfy a bunch of loonies who call themselves ‘peace activists.’ If this group wants to restore it with their own money, plus the $50,000 the city promised, then so be it, but the city should resist all efforts to waste more than they promised.”


“I wholeheartedly support the idea of the city adding funds to the money raised by the community to restore Paul Conrad’s landmark. The city would set a terrible precedent if officials decide not to pay for the restoration of a work of art they accepted, then horribly neglected. Do we want to attract great artists to our city or discourage them from giving us work that enhances our community because we fail to respect and care for it? If city officials and our arts commission had done the very basic cleaning and upkeep necessary for all artwork exposed to the elements on a regular basis, this would not be an issue. The $400,000 figure you cite is the potential cost of replacing (not repairing) the sculpture and reasonable estimates are much lower. If you add the funds raised by the community to the $50,000 of matching grant money the city has already promised, it can probably get done. So what’s the real issue?”


“It is absolutely appropriate for the city to restore Paul Conrad’s iconic peace sculpture ‘Chain Reaction,’ a profound piece of public art, now landmarked, that calls out what a truly sustainable city is — one that unabashedly confronts the monumental destruction nuclear weapons cause and the urgency to abolish them. Art can awaken us in surprising ways. The restoration is worth every penny to keep us awake. Many in the local or neighboring communities are helping to raise funds as well, yet the city needs to take the lead.”


“Of course the city should take responsibility for maintaining its prized possession, Paul Conrad’s internationally famous peace sculpture. But the cost to the city will be nowhere near the $400,000 that has been mentioned. Certified professional engineers have submitted quotes below $100,000; one even stated that the sculpture is safe for 10 years as is. Citizen volunteers have already raised $45,000, with another fundraiser scheduled for Monday, Jan. 13, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at WritersBootCamp, Bergamot Station. The public is invited to attend this event for the price of a voluntary donation. The more we citizens help support the city’s public art projects, the less needs to come out of budgeted funds.”


“Yes, the city should pay for repairs for an artwork that has landmark status and that the city apparently has not maintained for 22 years.”


“The city was gifted this art piece and was to maintain it. The city is responsible, but the public has raised money to help. The $400,000 figure is not accurate.”


“Santa Monica should protect and preserve its public art, especially one like ‘Chain Reaction,’ a landmarked peace sculpture … supported by the Santa Monica and Los Angeles conservancies. It’s the city’s most important piece of art by an important artist, and it is worth whatever amount of money is needed to conserve it and its message for future generations.”


“Yes! And there are estimates that it will cost half of that $400,000 ‘money is no object’ bid.”


“This willingness to pay for repairs to ‘Chain Reaction’ is yet another example of the lunacy of City Hall. Not one dime should be spent to pay for the repair. The City Council should be voted out; they ignore the things that need to be done and waste time and money on the wrong things. Boot them out!”


“I think it’s absurd to seriously consider spending close to half-a-million dollars to preserve and restore ‘Chain Reaction.’ As is so often the case in Santa Monica, a small group of vocal and persistent activists has latched onto this as their latest misguided cause. I am furious that my tax money will be spent in this way. It’s time to accept and acknowledge that ‘Chain Reaction’ is no longer worth preserving. Heaven knows there are numerous needs in this city for which the money can be more appropriately and productively used.”


“The city should not fund this ‘sculpture.’ If the public doesn’t care, let it rot. City Council spends money like drunken sailors on shore leave. Enough!”


“I am so sick of our fiscally irresponsible City Council that I could spit nails! Take the ugly sculpture and send it to the recycling center to be melted down into something useful. This will end the problem once and for all in a fiscally and sane manner.”

“‘Chain Reaction’ is a meaningful and important landmark sculpture that the city owns. As such, the city should have been responsible for maintaining and preserving this valuable sculpture in the first place. The city must now be a responsible caretaker and restore the sculpture for generations to come.”


“No! Let our overpaid city manager take a year of his wages to pay for it. That should just about cover the tab. What part of ‘budget deficit’ doesn’t he understand! Caving in to a small minority of loud mouths is not how city government should be run.”


“The City Council should not spend our limited tax dollars on refurbishing the sculpture. The proponents have failed to raise the money privately, and the city should not bail them out with our tax dollars. If the city has extra funds for the arts, there are many better ways to spend those funds, such as school arts programs and the summer concert series. Any council member who votes for this boondoggle will never have my vote again.”


“I think the city should pay for the balance of the cost of refurbishing the sculpture. It has become an international site that tourists visit and take pictures. It is a clear reminder that we still stand in the shadow of doomsday. It is an important piece of public art in our city. And It honors the significant historical figure of Paul Conrad.”


“I think it should be a private-public endeavor, with private funds being matched with city funding up to $100,000. That should be the limit to our city dollars on this. I do think it’s worth saving.”


“I’m not a fan of most public art, but the ‘Chain Reaction’ sculpture is one piece that I have always loved. It’s simple, its message is easy to understand and it’s a bold and conspicuous reminder that nuclear disaster is never far away and that the dangers of nukes always outweigh the benefits. I believe we would be greatly served if mushroom cloud ‘reminders’ were depicted in more places. Four-hundred-thousand dollars is a lot of dough and I hope the restoration estimate was reached after lots of competitive bids were reviewed, however, I’m 100 percent in support of preserving this important sculpture and the memory of its creator, Paul Conrad.”


“The Conrad sculpture is important to the city as a monument to Santa Monica’s history. The City Council would like to have it replaced by more corporate fast-food chains rather than refurbish it as a symbol of our cultural history. If the city can spend $40 million to build a park to increase the value of the condos being built next to it then it can certainly find money to repair the sculpture.”


“I am very happy that ‘Chain Reaction’ is going to be saved by the city. It’s the right thing to do. It’s an important piece of art. As someone who grew up reading Paul Conrad’s artwork and commentaries on the world in the newspaper every day, the fact that we have a permanent piece of sculpture made by Paul Conrad is a very important part of being in my city.”


“I believe the rough humanity visible in Paul Conrad’s ‘Chain Reaction’ is no less modern than the titanium struts, glass, plastic sheets and shimmering homogenous facades we presently think of as modern. Locating the sculpture in Santa Monica is the outcome of a process which was good, not harmful, for the people, truly of their time, who engaged in it. It is a symbol of their love, their excitement, their energy. They cared for a workable and life-creating city. To not support the preservation of this sculpture is to show disrespect for that process and for them. To use lack of money as the excuse for doing so is to become spokespersons and propagandists for the problem they wanted the sculpture to warn us about!”


“I can’t believe that City Hall would consider not repairing the ‘Chain Reaction’ sculpture! It seems to me that is exactly the sort of project Santa Monica should finance and support. It is a beautiful sculpture and very powerful. When I first saw it I was really impressed by its aesthetic beauty and its strong reminder of the devastation caused by atomic bombs. At the base of the sculpture is a plaque which reads “This is a statement of peace, may it never become an epitaph.” I strongly believe in Conrad’s statement and do not want his vision of peace to be forgotten.”


“The question that you pose is flawed. The ‘Chain Reaction’ sculpture does not need $400,000 worth of repairs. That is almost enough money to build it from scratch. The grassroots campaign is on schedule to raise at least $100,000 by the time that City Council will be discussing it in February. That is enough money to make necessary repairs so that the sculpture can stand for decades to come. If the city wants to throw in more money to make unnecessary repairs, that is their choice. I wish that we could stop them form doing so, but we cannot.”

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *