Chain Reaction (File photo)

Chain Reaction will stay linked to its current location thanks to City Council approval of $275,000 to cover the cost of renovations.

At their Nov. 10 meeting, the council approved funds to end what has become a multi-year saga over the safety of the public art project.

Chain Reaction, designed by American editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad, was installed on Main Street in 1991 and designated a landmark July 9, 2012, by the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission.

In 2012, city officials said that the aging sculpture posed a threat to public safety. Costs to repair the sculpture, they said at the time, could be $400,000. City Council asked the public to raise funds to save the sculpture and supporters, with the self-designated nickname of the Chain Gang, collected more than $100,000. Council voted to accept that cash and cover the difference.

Chain Reaction has a structural steel interior frame, a fiberglass shell and copper chains on the exterior of the artwork that are in various conditions. Final testing of the work showed little damage to the steel structure and stainless steel connections. The report said a new coat of paint and replacement of some steel screws with copper would satisfy most of the problems with the chains.

“The proposed restoration plan includes, but is not limited to, repairing chains and fiberglass areas removed during testing, repairing or replacing chain connectors, cleaning and recoating chains, removing chains at the top of the sculpture and applying a UV resistant paint,” said the staff report.

Some landscaping is also included in proposal to provide a barrier that would prevent anyone from climbing on the statue.

Council’s Nov. 10 vote formally puts the community-raised money to work and provides enough money to cover the remainder of the project.

David Conrad, son of the artist, said the positive outcome of the project was due to community support.

“The community rallied to save what we believe is a priceless piece of art and a profound political statement,” he said.

He asked that the restoration include lighting and some appropriate signage.

Perennial council commentator Jerry Rubin praised everyone involved in the process.

“It’s been a good endeavor, people showed they want to pitch in to help save this for good reason,” he said. “Because it is such a unique, timely and creative work of public art.”

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Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...