Santa Monica votes to save 'Chain Reaction' by Paul Conrad

Santa Monica votes to save 'Chain Reaction' by Paul Conrad
"Chain Reaction," a sculpture by the late Los Angeles Times editorial cartoonist Paul Conrad, in Santa Monica. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

After years of uncertainty, it appears that the "Chain Reaction" sculpture by Paul Conrad will be saved.

The Santa Monica City Council voted on Tuesday to allocate $100,000 in public donations as well as additional city funds to repair the 1991 outdoor sculpture, which had been the subject of debate over its safety. The L.A. Now blog first reported the story late Tuesday.


Critics of the anti-nuclear sculpture said that it was unstable and unsafe for the public and that it needed to be removed from its location near the Santa Monica Civic Center. But supporters rallied to raise money to repair the 26-foot-tall work of art.

Conrad, who died in 2010 at age 86, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times. His sculpture, completed in 1991, depicts a nuclear mushroom cloud made of chain. It was initially funded with $250,000 from Joan Kroc, the philanthropist and widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc.

In 2012, the Santa Monica City Council approved the sculpture's removal but gave supporters time to raise money to save it. The same year, the sculpture was designated a landmark by the city's Landmarks Commission.

The full cost of refurbishing "Chain Reaction" remains unclear, but it is expected to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Conrad, who won three Pulitzer Prizes for his cartoons, worked at The Times for close to three decades.