Santa Monica's Landmarks Commission will put pressure on the City Council to endorse to keep a renowned cartoonist's anti-nuke sculpture in the city's public art collection.
The cartoonist's son, Dave Conrad, is preparing to lead the fundraising campaign. He and local activist Jerry Rubin told the city's Landmarks Commission on Monday night that it would "near impossible" to raise the half of a million dollars needed to restore the sculpture without City Council support.
The Conrad family has decided 'yes, this is what we want to do,' Dave Conrad told Patch of attempting to keep the controversial artwork from being de-commissioned. "This is definitely an effort that I am pursuing."
Salty ocean air and the rain have corroded the 26-foot tall fiberglass mushroom cloud sculpted by Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times cartoonist Paul Conrad, and city officials say there's not enough money in public coffers to restore it.
The Landmarks Commission decided Monday that it supports the concept of public fundraising to pay for the conservation efforts. Additionally, the commission, which serves as an advisory body to the council, will consider nominating the sculpture—titled "Chain Reaction"—for a landmark designation on April 9.
The designation could protect the sculpture from destruction
Conrad, who died in 2010, won Pulitzers in 1964, 1971 and 1984 for his "fiercely confrontational" political cartoons. He sculpted "Chain Reaction" during the Cold War as the West and East raced to bolster their weapons chests, escalating fears of a repeat of the 1945 nuclear attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
"I consider this piece of art one of the least controversial pieces he’s ever done," his son said. Who would want to "destroy the planet with a chain of nuclear bombs going off?"
Keeping the sculpture in the city's art collection is the best solution, he said.
"We like the fact that Santa Monica is the city that accepted it originally," he explained. "It looks good there in front of city hall and in front of RAND Corp."
The City Council is slated to weigh in March 20.