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Santa Monica to consider keeping peace sculpture

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) -- A sculpture warning of the horrors of nuclear war is getting its own bid for survival.

Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/KxRhC5 ) that he will recommend the city cover potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in restoration costs for “Chain Reaction.”

The 26-foot-tall sculpture has stood outside the Civic Center of this Los Angeles beach suburb since 1991.

The 5 1/2-ton sculpture features tangled chains in the form of a mushroom cloud. It bears the inscription: “This is a statement of peace. May it never become an epitaph.”

The sculpture, made of copper, steel and fiberglass, was designed by Paul Conrad, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist who died in 2010. He was paid $250,000 by Joan Kroc, the late San Diego philanthropist and widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc.

However, the sculpture was slowly eaten away by 21 years of salty ocean air and by people climbing over it. City officials and staff estimated it could cost $200,000 to $400,000 to stabilize and restore the sculpture.

In 2012, the City Council approved removing the sculpture but gave supporters several months to raise funds to save it. The city's Landmark Commission also voted to designate it as a local landmark.

Local peace activist Jerry Rubin, Conrad's son, David, and others began a grass-roots campaign to raise funds.

About $40,000 was raised, the city manager said in an email Friday to the Times. “Staff will recommend that council accept the funds and provide general funds to undertake the required structural investigation and restoration work to ensure public safety.”

A City Council vote is scheduled for Feb. 25.

“There has been a tremendous amount of public outpouring of support,” said Councilwoman Gleam Davis. “It makes sense for the council to honor the ... hard work that has gone into raising money. This is a landmark, and we need to take care of it.”


Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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