Auction Gets Another Final Show, Features Paul Conrad Sculpture

Proceeds from the sale will benefit the restoration of the artist's threatened anti-nuke sculpture at the Santa Monica Civic Center.

An original bronze sculpture by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Paul Conrad—the artist who created the beloved mushroom cloud sculpture at risk of being dropped from the city's public art collection—will hit the auction block this weekend in Santa Monica.

Proceeds from the sale of the small bronze work, "Martin Luther King—Free At Last," will go toward the restoration of the anti-nuke sculpture, "Chain Reaction." Included in its sale is a hand-signed Conrad cartoon of Nixon from 1975.

Conrad, who died in 2010, won Pulitzers in 1964, 1971 and 1984 for his "fiercely confrontational" political cartoons published in the Los Angeles Times.

See: 'Chain Reaction' Sculpture Gets Unanimous Landmark Vote

In addition to Chain Reaction, he created a series of smaller-scale bronze works of various political figures he revered, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Robert F. Kennedy. His limited-edition bronze sculptures—"Free At Last" among them—have been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

"Free At Last" was molded in 1996. It is 19 inches tall and sits on a 4-inch wooden base. Conrad's signature is cast on the foot of the sculpture, according to Conrad's son, Dave.

"He is using Martin Luther King's well known statement to show that his dream has been realized," said Dave Conrad. "The black man has broken his chains of slavery and is now 'Free At Last.'"

After a nearly 19-year-run, the auction is to be the last held at the C2 gallery space at Bergamot Station Arts Center. The building was to be leveled in September to make way for a Expo Light Rail station, but demolition was put off until after November.

See: Bergamot Demolition Looms Over Galleries

A final auction was held this summer, but with the extension, the auction's organizer said there was time for one more.

The auction is noon Sunday in Building C at 2525 Michigan Ave.

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